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Accused Arsonist Now Charged with Attempted Murder

By Nick Davis, August 03, 2017

A man accused of starting a fire in the home inhabited by his estranged wife and step-daughter has now had new charges filed against him.

Prosecutors filed half a dozen new charges against 42 year old Shane Ryan of Ottumwa. The new indictment includes two counts of Attempted Murder, Arson, Stalking, Burglary, Going Armed with Intent and two counts of Assault while participating in a felony.

Ryan had previously been charged with First Degree Arson and First Degree Burglary.

Court documents provided by the Wapello County Attorney’s Office indicate Ryan poured diesel fuel in various places inside the home of his wife and step-daughter while they were asleep. Ryan then allegedly woke the two and poured diesel fuel on his step-daughter. He told both victims that he was going to burn the house down.

Both residents made it outside of the home without any injury.

Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger says his office didn’t have enough evidence to prove attempted murder when the initial charging documents were filed in June. “In the very beginning you don’t always have the complete information,” Oldenburger says. “After the investigation was complete we understand more about what happened. The evidence shows he took action that he believed would result in the deaths of the two victims.”

Many people, especially in social media platforms, initially asked why Ryan was not charged with Attempted Murder on day one. Oldenburger says Attempted Murder can be a difficult charge to prove in court.

“Attempted murder is a pretty challenging one, but I think that the evidence shows that was his intent.”

Prosecutors must prove that not only did the defendant set into motion or expect to set into “motion a force or chain of events which would cause or result in the death of the victim,” but also that the defendant acted with the “specific intent to cause the death of the victim.”

The new charges mean significantly more prison time if Ryan is found guilty. Ryan originally faced a maximum of 50 years behind bars. If given maximum consecutive sentences, he now faces 120 years in prison.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

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