District Attorney Hoovler Announces Conviction After Jury Trial in Circumstantial Arson Murder Case
Jury convicts man of crimes including Murder in the Second Degree and Arson in the First Degree for intentionally setting a house on fire and causing the death of a 46-year-old man who was trapped in the house, who died of smoke inhalation.
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Friday, July 1, 2022, Ryan Veloce, age 32, of Montgomery, was convicted following a jury trial in the Orange County Court of crimes including Murder in the Second Degree and Arson in the First Degree. The convictions were in connection with a fire which destroyed a single-family house located on Barron Road in Town of Montgomery on the morning of June 10, 2021. A 46-year-old man, who resided in that home, was rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped in the house. The man died later that morning at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital as the result of smoke inhalation. During the trial, prosecutors argued that Veloce, who had been an overnight guest in the home, had intentionally set the fire using kerosene because he believed that the deceased man, who was asleep at the time, had stolen Veloce’s cocaine the night before the fire. The charges of Murder in the Second Degree and Arson in the First Degree related to Veloce setting the house on fire and the resulting death of the man. The jury also convicted Veloce of two counts each of Arson in the Second Degree and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, for having set the fire when he knew that in addition to the man who died, both a female tenant in the house and her friend were also sleeping in house. Both survivors escaped the fire by jumping out of bedroom windows. Veloce was also convicted of Attempted Assault in the Third Degree for having punched the deceased man on the night before the fire during an altercation over the stolen cocaine. Veloce faces a maximum sentence of twenty-five years to life in state prison when he is sentenced on August 23, 2022. Veloce was remanded to the Orange County Jail without bail following the jury’s verdict.
On June 10, 2021, at approximately 7:00 a.m. the Town of Montgomery Police Department and firefighters responded to the burning home on Barron Road. Veloce, who initially denied having been in the house, was seen walking from the vicinity of the fire. The Town of Montgomery Police were aided in the investigation by the New York State Police, Orange County Fire Investigators, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Office of Fire Control and Prevention and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. A trained arson detection canine team from the Orange County Sherriff’s Office aided arson investigators in determining the point of origin of the fire. Subsequent laboratory testing conducted at the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany confirmed that a liquid accelerant, likely kerosene, was used to start the fire, and that the fire had been started in the bedroom the defendant had occupied.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the Town of Montgomery Police Department for their investigation and the arrest of Veloce, as well as New York State Police, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Arson Investigators, and the New York State Office of Fire Control and Prevention for their assistance in the case. District Attorney Hoovler also thanked the firefighters who responded to the scene, particularly those who entered the burning residence to rescue the victim.
“Murder by arson by its very nature can be difficult to investigate because the act of committing that crime usually results in the destruction of evidence,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “In this case, as in many arson cases, the defendant chose to set the fire when there were no eyewitnesses present and his victims were asleep and vulnerable. Since there was no confession by the defendant, this case had to be proved circumstantially. This was only possible due to the tireless and coordinated efforts of the Town of Montgomery Police Department, the New York State Police, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Fire Investigators, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. We are truly fortunate in Orange County that our law enforcement agencies, fire agencies and other first responders work so well together. ”
District Attorney Hoovler said, “Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek and Assistant District Attorney Michael Roche, did an outstanding job of meticulously preparing and presenting this circumstantial case. The result of their work, in conjunction with the work of all of the agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case, resulted in a just verdict, which ensures that this defendant will be held accountable for his deadly and cowardly actions.”
Town of Montgomery Police Chief John Hank said, “I am happy to see this case come to a conclusion that will give a small bit of closure to the Horan family. I would like to commend the hard work of the investigators from the Town of Montgomery Police, the New York State Police, the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Orange County DA’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The cooperation between all of these agencies led to a successful prosecution of this very difficult case.”
A criminal charge is merely an allegation by the police that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.