Kilmartin appoints special prosecutor for arson cases

Peter Kilmartin

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has appointed a special prosecutor to make solving arson cases a priority.

"That I know of, it hasn't been done here before. But with the amount of fires we've had, the fact that it is a capital crime to commit an arson, we thought developing a specialty in house to work with fire marshals and police departments throughout the state would be advantageous to all," Kilmartin said.

Kilmartin said the process to set up the special prosecutor began last year.

Special Assistant Attorney General John Dean will take on the role. He comes to it equipped with 15 years of experience in public safety and 10 years as firefighter.

The office is currently working 20 arson cases; half of them are first-degree arsons.

"There are some cases in Providence that are now being investigated, and we work very well with the marshal in Providence and state fire marshals, and hopefully we'll get some resolutions on those too," Kilmartin said.

Investigation protocol has been established, which will appear before fire and police departments soon.

If the fire is serious enough -- meaning someone is injured or killed -- the attorney general's office will be involved right from the start at the scene. The prosecutor will be available anytime, day or night.

Kilmartin said the approach is a team-based one with the goal of solving some of the dozens of outstanding cases.

"It's the same thing we do in the case of a murder or a shooting. We send out prosecutors, right away, right from the beginning," Kilmartin said.