A jury on Friday acquitted a 28-year-old man of arson charges for a fire that badly burned his friend, the son of a former Henderson police chief, and his friend’s girlfriend.
After a two-week trial and about two days of deliberation, the jury found Charles Rauch not guilty of five counts, including two counts each of attempted murder and battery and one count of first-degree arson.
Prosecutors accused Rauch of setting a fire early Aug. 7, 2010, while Michael Mayberry and Jessica Calderara were asleep inside the home at 824 Golden Plata Court in Henderson.
Special Agent Daniel Heenan of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified that gasoline had been poured on the carpet outside the couple’s bedroom and a battery was removed from a smoke detector.
But Rauch’s defense lawyers argued the crime scene was contaminated during the investigation, and a defense expert testified there were other possible causes of the fire, including a plug-in air freshener and a faulty electrical socket.
Rauch’s mother testified she saw her son at home about two hours before the fire started.
Defense lawyer Jennifer Bolton said she and her client were grateful the jury took their time deliberating and paid attention to all the testimony throughout the trial.
“That is all we as attorneys on either side can ask,” Bolton said.
Prosecutor Agnes Botehlo said she respected the jury’s decision.
Mayberry, the son of former police chief and Henderson mayoral candidate Michael Mayberry, suffered third-degree burns.
Calderara had burns on 45 percent of her body.
As the verdict was read, Calderara cried.
When she left the courtroom, she yelled at Rauch’s mother, “How do you sleep at night?”
Rauch was expected to be released later Friday from the Clark County Detention Center.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.