Arson suspect pleads not guilty

DALLAS -- A Dallas man arrested earlier this month for a series of arson fires has pled not guilty to all charges despite his confession to the crimes to police two weeks ago.



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James Riley Porter Jr. listens as his attorney, Doug Berg, explains the charges against him.

DALLAS -- A Dallas man arrested earlier this month for a series of arson fires has pled not guilty to all charges despite his confession to the crimes to police two weeks ago.

James Riley Porter Jr., 30, of Dallas, pled not guilty in Polk County Court Dec. 18 on nine counts of arson in the first degree, one count of attempted arson, two counts of arson in the second degree, and nine counts of reckless burning.

Charges against Porter were updated at his arraignment from those previously announced.

A city parks employee spotted Porter loitering in Dallas City Park on Dec. 9. Later, upon his arrest, police found Porter had a fuel additive and a lighter in his possession.

During questioning, Dallas Police said Porter confessed to setting 22 fires in the city, though only 14 were large enough to be reported.

The only motivation Porter gave police for setting the fires was because he liked doing so. He had planned to set another fire the afternoon he was arrested, according to police.

Police had responded to suspected arson at local public and private properties, including Lyle Elementary School modular buildings, Dallas Aquatic Center, First Presbyterian Church, General Rental, Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Dallas City Park.

The damage to the modular at Lyle is estimated at $50,000 to $60,000.

Porter is being held on $1 million bail in Polk County Jail. His pre-trial hearing is set for Monday, Jan. 5, at 11 a.m. His trial is set for Thursday, Feb. 5, at 9:30 a.m.



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