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What you need to know for 03/28/2017

Man accused of lighting stepfather on fire pleads not guilty

Man accused of lighting stepfather on fire pleads not guilty

A Schenectady man accused of lighting his stepfather on fire is due back in court on Friday after he
Man accused of lighting stepfather on fire pleads not guilty
Andrell J. Leppanen walks from his arraignment in Schenectady City Court at the Schenectady Police Department to an awaiting Schenectady Sheriff transport van on Monday. Leppanen, 29, allegedly intentionally threw gasoline on his stepfather and lit him...
Photographer: Marc Schultz

A Schenectady man accused of lighting his stepfather on fire is due back in court on Friday after he pleaded not guilty Monday to two misdemeanor charges from the incident.

Andrell J. Leppanen, 29, is charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment — felonies — and he pleaded not guilty to arson and criminal mischief — misdemeanors — at his initial appearance on Monday in Schenectady City Court. Leppanen was arrested on Sunday after he allegedly intentionally threw gasoline on his stepfather and lit him on fire.

The incident happened last Friday morning at 925 Bridge St., according to police. Leppanen and his stepfather, who a family member identified as Kevin Hawkins, allegedly got into an altercation, which ended with Hawkins on fire.

Hawkins, 50, was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center and was admitted to its burn unit. He is expected to survive, and the prosecution said in court on Monday that he is in critical condition.

Leppanen stood in front of Judge Mark Caruso around 2:15 p.m. on Monday wearing an orange jumpsuit. He didn’t speak much, except to answer the judge’s questions, keeping his eyes forward for the entirety of the 10-minute appearance.

A public defender is representing Leppanen, and he asked the judge to set bail at $10,000 cash. He said Leppanen is a lifelong Schenectady County resident with family in the area, adding that the defendant is unemployed but used to work at Dunkin' Donuts.

The prosecution asked the judge that Leppanen be held without bail, citing the violent nature of the three felonies he’s charged with, the two-day search that followed the incident and the fact that Leppanen has a previous conviction.

Caruso agreed with the prosecution, and said Leppanen would be held without bail until his next hearing.

Three people sat in the front row of the courtroom and left immediately after his hearing concluded, with one man appearing to wave to Leppanen on his way out the door.

Leppanen is due back in court on Friday at 1:30 p.m. for his preliminary hearing.

Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, bsamuels@dailygazette.net or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.

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