Man admits arson in Salt Lake City apartment fire

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah electrician pleaded guilty on Monday to starting a fire in February that caused $6 million in damage to an unfinished Salt Lake City apartment building.

Dustin Bowman, a 34-year-old from Bountiful, Utah, pleaded guilty to one count of arson as part of a deal with prosecutors.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend a judge sentence Bowman to two years in prison and pay roughly $3 million in restitution.

Bowman is due back in court on March 4 for sentencing.

In court Monday, Bowman wore a red jail jumpsuit and handcuffs shackled at his waist as he entered his plea and answered questions from Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells.

His attorney Jamie Zenger and Assistant U.S. Attorney Drew Yeates declined to comment on the deal Monday.

The Feb. 9 fire destroyed an apartment complex that was under construction, where Bowman was working as an electrician.

No one was inside the building at the time and no one was injured. The nighttime blaze in downtown Salt Lake City could be seen for miles.

During an interview with fire investigators, Bowman admitted to returning to the construction site at night to smoke spice, a synthetic form of marijuana.

Bowman ignited a piece of cardboard and tossed it into a bathtub leaning against a wood wall, according to court documents.

He contacted a fire investigator days later to offer information about the case.

Before changing his plea and forgoing his trial, Bowman had pushed for his interviews with fire investigators to be thrown out.

A judge agreed earlier this year to dismiss an initial four-hour-long interview conducted days after the fire, finding that investigators did not fully inform Bowman of his Miranda Rights ahead of time.

The judge allowed a second interview from the next day, where Bowman admitted to starting the fire.

Court records show that when asked about his motive, Bowman said: "Maybe I wanted to see the fire department."

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