A Maine man who set a fatal fire after arguing over a card game is going to prison.

Who Set the Fire?

Charles Townsend was arrested in November in connection with the fatal fire at a Robbinston home in October 2020. He was charged with arson and depraved indifference murder for the death of 66-year-old Wayne Morrill.

Was There a Trial?

In order to protect his family and Morrill's loved ones through the ordeal of a trial, Townsend pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. He was sentenced this week to 32 years in prison.

Why Did He Start the Fire?

According to WGME, Townsend's defense attorney described the pair as best friends. The younger man was often in Morrill's Ridge Road home for social visits with the man that family members said he treated like a son. On that fateful night, like so many other nights, the two men had been drinking and playing cards together. But the mood soured when the two began to argue and an angry Townsend left the house. Still, the attorney says, when Townsend went into the mudroom and lit a paper bag on fire, it was supposed to be a prank.

Fire officials said Morrill, who normally had difficulty walking, was unable to escape the house in time, once the fire began to spread. The State Fire Marshal's Office conducted an autopsy and determined that Morrill died of smoke inhalation.

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