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Exeter man intends to plead guilty to jail escape charge

BRENTWOOD - An Exeter man intends to plead guilty to charges that he tried to escape from the Rockingham County jail by climbing a fence in September.

Robert Daigle, 30, was indicted on an attempted escape charge while being jailed for allegedly firebombing a home in Exeter on June 12.

He faces three counts of arson and charges of reckless conduct and criminal threatening in that case.

Daigle still plans on taking his arson case to trial on March 4, according to prosecutors. But he will enter his guilty plea on the attempted escape charge, a Class B felony, on March 26, according to court records.

Terms of the plea deal have not yet been made public. He faces up to 3½ to 7 years in prison on the attempted escape charge.

Daigle is accused of climbing a fence at the county jail on Sept. 14. It happened three months after he was taken into custody on the arson case. Police say Daigle threw Molotov cocktails at a pick-up truck and side of a mobile home at 32 Hilton Ave.

He was stopped and questioned by a police officer while walking down the street on the night of the fire, police said. Daigle had initially told police he was walking home from a friend's house, Detective Patrick Mulholland said in a sworn affidavit.

When police arrived and interviewed the victim, they learned that Daigle's appearance on the street might have been more than a coincidence, court records say. The victim in the case, Roger Russo, told investigators that Daigle was a former employee that he had an ongoing dispute with, according to Mulholland.

Russo's GMC Sonoma pick-up truck was burnt in the fire, along with the side of a mobile home. The blaze was extinguished by the Exeter Fire Department.

Police found broken beer bottles stuffed with paper used for Molotov cocktails with bottles near the charred truck, according to police. During a second interview with police, Daigle admitted to lighting a gas-filled bottle on fire and throwing it at Russo's vehicle in the driveway, the affidavit says.

The arson charges are Class A felonies punishable by up to 7½ to 15 years in prison.

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