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What you need to know for 07/22/2017

Rally planned at site of fatal Schenectady fire

Rally planned at site of fatal Schenectady fire

Family and friends of those killed in last May’s Hulett Street arson fire are expected to gather Wed
Rally planned at site of fatal Schenectady fire
Mourners wear T-shirts remembering the father and three children who died in a fire May 2, 2013, on Hulett Street in Schenectady at a memorial service May 18. 2013, at Bond Funeral Home.

Family and friends of those killed in last May’s Hulett Street arson fire are expected to gather Wednesday evening at the fire scene asking the public’s help to solve the case.

The rally comes five days after the man long-charged with setting the fire was set free after another suspect apparently emerged.

Family member Liz Dolder put together tonight’s scheduled rally. She said the person responsible for the fire needs to be brought to justice.

“How can you say that the community safe with whoever did this out there?” Dolder said.

She praised the work of investigators, who she said are working hard to sort out the truth.

The rally is set for 6 p.m. in front of the now-demolished 438 Hulett St. home. The fire, which took place on May 2, 2013, began in the home’s stairway, authorities say. The resulting blaze killed David Terry, 32, and his children Layah, 3, Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months.

The only child to survive was 5-year-old Sa’fyre Terry, but she was badly injured. Sa’fyre has made significant progress in her recovery, family members have said.

Dolder was Terry’s sister, as well as the guardian of Layah Terry.

The man who was once charged with the horrific crime was set free Friday. Robert A. Butler, who spent nine months in jail, was arrested the day after the blaze.

Had he been convicted of the federal charge against him, he could have faced the death penalty.

Butler was represented by attorneys Timothy E. Austin and William T. Easton.

Easton has said that photographic and documentary evidence proved his client’s innocence.

On Tuesday, Easton said Butler remained in the Capital Region, but he declined to be more specific.

“He’s certainly relieved that the charges have been dropped and to be out of jail,” Easton said. “It still has been traumatic for him over the last months to be publicly labeled as the killer when he knows he wasn’t.”

Federal prosecutors have said little about what led to the charges being dropped. The only comment has come through federal court filings.

“The gravity of the crime and the potential punishments, the unusual and complex facts, including information regarding the involvement of others, and the circumstances regarding eyewitnesses, necessitate further investigation,” the filing read.

Monday was the deadline to indict on the charges filed. Prosecutors, however, are not barred from bringing charges against Butler again if they feel the evidence warrants it.

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