FARMINGTON — A Wilton man was found guilty on four counts of arson last week related to two intentionally set fires in Wilton and Carthage last summer.

Franklin County Judge William Stokes handed down his written verdict against D’Kota Rowe, 21, of Wilton on Friday following his two-day bench trial on April 26 and April 29.

Rowe is one of four men who were charged with setting fire to a vacant mobile home on Sewall Street in Wilton on June 27. He and two of the other men, Duane Bailey, 28, of Carver, Massachusetts, and Einer Bonilla, 22, formerly of Nebraska, also were charged with setting a fire to a log-cabin style camp in Carthage later that night.

Devon Pease, 23, of Jay, was at the scene of the Wilton fire, but was left before the Carthage fire was set, police have said. He pleaded guilty last month to a charge of aggravated criminal mischief and was sentenced to five years and prison with all but six months suspended.

Bailey plead guilty to two counts of arson last month and was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison with all but 46 months suspended. Upon release he will serve four years of probation.

Bonilla has yet to appear on his charges.

Stokes found Rowe guilty as an accomplice on two counts of arson, class A, in relation to the Wilton fire and again as an accomplice on two counts of arson, class A, in relation to the Carthage fire. Each set of counts will be consolidated into one count for the purpose of sentencing, which is scheduled for June 7. Rowe pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit arson, class B, before the trial.

Rowe was represented by attorney Chris Berryment and the state was represented by Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins.

Both fires were set on the night of June 27, after Rowe, Bailey and Bonilla had been partaking in a level of alcohol and drug consumption that Stokes called “extraordinary and frightening.”

The four men intended to burn down a house on Main Street in Wilton that night owned by a man who allegedly owed money to Rowe’s mother, according to court documents.

Rowe was the driver during the alcohol-and-drug-fueled night. He drove Bailey, Bonilla and Pease in his Dodge Caliber as the men smoked marijuana and used ecstacy, Percocet 30s and heroin, while drinking 2 gallons of an alcoholic concoction, Caribou Lou, which consists of 151 proof rum, coconut rum and pineapple juice, according to Stokes’ verdict.

The men stopped to pick up gas cans from Pease’s home and then traveled to The Big Apple gas station, where Rowe pumped gas into the can because Bailey was too drunk to “figure out the gas pump,” according to statements made by Rowe in a recorded interview with an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office, Kenneth MacMaster.

In his interview with MacMaster, Rowe “put most of the blame on Bonilla and Bailey and insisted that he was forced to participate in the criminal activities that followed,” Stokes wrote in his verdict.

From The Big Apple, Rowe drove he and the other men to the Main Street home, where , he said, Bonilla and Bailey got out with the intention of setting the home on fire while Pease and Rowe waited in the car. However, when a barking dog scared the two men from the home, they went back to the car and told Rowe and Pease they were going to set fire to a nearby double-wide trailer on Sewall Street.

Bailey testified in court during Rowe’s trial and admitted that he set the fire at the trailer while Rowe stayed in the car.

However, Stokes found Rowe’s decision to stay at the home after the two men strayed from the initial plan as enough reason to find Rowe guilty as an accomplice on the counts of arson related to the Wilton fire.

“(I)n those moments when he realized that his companions were about to commit arson of a structure that was not part of the original plan, D’Kota Rowe made the conscious decision to stay and assist Bonilla and Bailey to flee from the fire they had just started,” Stokes wrote in his verdict.

Bailey also corroborated that Pease was dropped off before the fire was set at the camp in Carthage.

After dropping Pease off, Rowe told MacMaster that he drove Bailey and Bonilla on a “rather circuitous route of travel … to Weld and Carthage, over narrow, rutted dirt roads as the three remaining members of the group ‘killed’ the bottle.”

Rowe pulled over along the side of Winter Hill Road, where he claimed that while he vomited, Bonilla and Bailey came up with the idea to burn the empty camp, which he claims they had done by the time he finished vomiting. He then drove the men back to his home in Wilton, where Bonilla and Bailey were staying.

Bailey testified that he carried the gas can to the camp, though claimed “a lack of memory as to who actually lit the fire,” Stokes wrote.

Stokes found that the fire in Carthage “was a reasonably forseeable consequence of the Defendant’s conduct of continuing to drive Bonilla and Bailey around franklin County in his vehicle that carried the unused gasoline, immediately after they ad started a fire in Wilton just for the sake of starting it.”

Stokes also rejected the defense’s argument that Rowe was under duress by threats from Bailey and Bonilla, finding that the alleged threats were “generalized, vague and nonspecific,” therefore not meeting the standard of “real and specific” threats that are required to uphold the defense of duress.

In addition to the arson case, Rowe faces charges with the same co-defendants for a string of Franklin County convenience store burglaries that occurred in July of last summer. Bailey, Pease and Bonilla have all pleaded guilty to three felony counts of burglary, and two misdemeanor counts of theft for their parts in the burglaries. Rowe faces the same charges, though his burglary case has not yet been resolved.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.