EATON — The man convicted for causing the September death of a New Paris resident was sentenced on Wednesday, Jan. 17, to serve three years in prison.
On Jan. 2, Anthony Wayne Luker, 24, entered a plea to one count “reckless homicide” in the Preble County Common Pleas Court.
According to Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Marty Votel, the charge is a felony of the third degree punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Last Wednesday, Luker was sentenced in PC Common Pleas Court to the maximum three years in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The charge stemmed from a house fire occurring on Sept. 7, 2023, at 6599 Ohio 121 West in New Paris. The Preble County Sheriff’s Office responded to the residence in response to a 9-1-1 call and discovered a single-wide house trailer engulfed in flames.
After the fire was extinguished, the body of resident Kenneth Doolin, 57, was discovered inside the rear door to the trailer.
Interviews with witnesses confirmed Luker had been at the property most of that day, apparently at the invitation of Mr. Doolin, according to Votel. Sometime shortly before the fire was reported, neighbors heard fireworks and a vehicle speeding away from the home. Subsequent investigation confirmed Luker had been the motorist leaving the home shortly before the fire was reported.
“Mr. Luker was arrested and admitted to breaking the stems off of ‘bottle rockets,’ lighting the fireworks, and then watching them spin out of control,” Votel said in a press release.
The Ohio State Fire Marshall’s report confirms the fire began on the enclosed front porch area and was caused by the fireworks. No gasoline or other fire accelerants were detected in the samples retrieved near the point of the fire’s origin.
“This case is a sad reminder that the reckless use of fire and/or fireworks in close proximity to wooden structures, such as homes and sheds, is extremely dangerous and can easily result in the tragic and senseless loss of human life,” Votel said. “The maximum sentence was appropriate. Although the harm done in this case can never be undone, it is the community’s hope that this conviction and sentence might bring the Doolin family a small measure of solace and closure.”