QUEENSBURY — A Stony Creek man who set his own home on fire one day last June, then fled the home with family members still inside, is headed to jail for 90 days after his guilty plea Wednesday to felony arson.
Jules L. Watkins pleaded guilty in connection with a June 10 fire that damaged his bedroom at his family’s home on Warrensburg Road.
Stony Creek firefighters contained the fire to the room, but the family was temporarily routed from the home. No one was hurt.
Fire investigators linked the blaze to Watkins’ room, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office determined that Watkins set a roll of paper towels ablaze under the bed, then fled with three family members inside.
Watkins, 41, was hesitant as he worked his way through a plea deal Wednesday before Warren County Judge John Hall.
He initially said he didn’t start the fire, but after consultation with his defense counsel, acknowledged that he lighted paper towels in his bedroom.
“My client doesn’t have a strong recollection of what happened that day,” said his lawyer, Julie Garcia.
Warren County First Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burin said Watkins’ family was OK with the plea deal that gave him an opportunity to avoid prison.
“They have no desire to see Jules incarcerated in state prison in this matter,” Burin said.
Watkins agreed to a plea deal that will require him to serve 90 days in jail, then a year on interim probation. If he does well, he will be sentenced to 5 years on probation.
If not, he faces a five-year prison term, Hall said.
He will also receive mental health assistance and possible substance abuse treatment during his sentence.
Watkins is free pending sentencing Jan. 11.