DETECTIVE AMY, FIRE MARSHAL K-9, HELPS WIN
20-YEAR SENTENCE AGAINST PANAMA CITY MAN WHO KILLED DOG IN FIRE
Detective Amy, a Labrador, advances the
arson investigation with some “Lab” tests of her own
A man who set fire to his
home during an argument with his girlfriend was sentenced Wednesday to 20
years in prison after being convicted in Bay County Circuit Court on charges
of arson and felony cruelty to animals. The jury returned the guilty
verdict after 13 minutes of deliberation, based largely on evidence produced
by one hard-nosed witness – a black Labrador Retriever named Amy that serves
as a detective with the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and
Timothy Reese, 43, set fire to his home at 6901 Sunset Ave., around 1 a.m.
on September 19, 2005. Bay County Fire Department requested the assistance
of Amy, the Lab, and her partner Detective Tommy Barron, and they discovered
samples and burn patterns that proved Reese set the fire. The girlfriend
escaped from a bedroom window with bruises and scratches, but her dog, also
a Labrador Retriever, was not able to escape.
“Arson is always a violent crime-- there is always the risk that someone can
be hurt or killed,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also
serves as State Fire Marshal. “I congratulate our K-9 team and everyone who
helped bring this criminal to justice.”
investigation determined that Reese poured gasoline from a five-gallon can
throughout the home and then told his girlfriend,” I am going to end this
now,” before setting the home on fire. Because of the amount of fuel
involved, Reese was also burned. An autopsy of the deceased dog proved it
died as a result of the fire. Further, despite protests by the defense that
the fire was started by the girlfriend, evidence samples collected by
Detective Barron and Amy, then tested by the Fire Marshal’s forensic
laboratory, proved only Reese could have set the fire. Bay County Circuit
Court Judge Dedee S. Costello handed down the 20-year sentence.
has been with the Bureau since May 2005 and is one of five accelerant
detection canines that State Farm Insurance Company has provided to the
Bureau as part of its Arson Dog Program. Often when a substance such as
gasoline is used, the residual amount after a fire is so small that only
scientific equipment in a laboratory can confirm it. But the olfactory
senses of a dog are sometimes
more sensitive than laboratory equipment.
Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the
Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and
law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious
origin. To report suspected arson, call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).