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Exeter man admits to arson, jail escape try
Robert Daigle, of Exeter was sentenced 1-1/2 to 3 years in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two counts of arson and three other charges in Rockingham County Superior Court. (COURTESY)
Robert Daigle, 30, pleaded guilty two counts of arson, criminal threatening, reckless conduct and an attempted escape charge as part of a plea deal, according to Assistant County Attorney Stacey Coughlin.
Daigle's sentence includes two suspended prison terms that could be imposed consecutively if he violates terms of his probation. Each of those charges could put Daigle back in state prison for two to four years.
Prosecutors had initially expected Daigle to only plead guilty to the attempted escape charge and take his arson case to trial on Monday. A last-minute agreement was reached resolving both cases. Daigle has been at the Rockingham County jail since his arrest in June. His incarceration will give him credit toward his sentence.
Exeter police arrested Daigle shortly after responding to a fire at 12:42 a.m. on June 12. Police arrived at the home of Roger Russo to find his 2002 GMC Sonoma pickup ablaze along with the side of his mobile home. The flames was extinguished by the Exeter Fire Department.
Officers found remnants of a Molotov cocktail at the rear of the truck, and began patrolling the area. Daigle was stopped and questioned while walking down the street, and told police he was walking home from a friend's house, Exeter police Detective Patrick Mulholland said in a sworn affidavit. Once police interviewed Russo, they learned that Daigle was his former employee who had an ongoing dispute with him, according to prosecutors. Police were able to match beer bottles in a recycling bin on Daigle's front porch to ones found at the scene, the affidavit said. The bottles were next to a white plastic gas can and an area where gas was spilled.
Daigle eventually admitted to police he caused the fire at Russo's home. While being held at the Rockingham County jail in Brentwood, Daigle climbed a fence in an attempt to escape on Sept. 14.
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