New Castle News


May 25, 2013

Man charged with arson after his house burns

NEW CASTLE — A Taylor Township man who allegedly doused his home with gasoline faces multiple charges of arson and assault.

Jason P. Merlini, 39, of 309 Warner Alley was charged with six counts of arson, five counts of aggravated assault including one for domestic violence, one count of reckless burning and five counts of recklessly endangering another person.

New Castle police, answering a domestic violence call at 309 Warner Alley at 12:40 a.m. Friday, said they saw flames and black smoke inside the house. Officers entered through an open garage door and reported heavy black smoke was billowing from inside the main floor.

Police said they encountered Merlini, who told them to leave him alone, that he wanted to die.

He refused commands to come down the steps, police said, but then slid down the stairs on his stomach and officers pulled him from the house.

Outside, police were told Merlini had begun drinking at an area bar at 4 p.m. and the bartender took his keys when he became inebriated. Police said Merlini’s wife picked him up, drove him home, then went to a party at the same bar.

She told officers when she got home at 11 p.m., she saw her husband walking around from the side of the house, telling her he could not get in. She said she noticed smoke when she entered the house and saw a pile of torn-up paper next to a trash can and smelled gasoline fumes.

She told police she and her husband had argued and she accused him of trying to burn down the house.

When she saw Merlini had a lighter, she told police, she fled the house and called 911.

Police filed charges Friday morning before District Judge Jennifer Nicholson.

Merlini was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital and was expected to be returned to the county Friday night to be arraigned.

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