Timothy Allen Kelly of Irrigon faces attempted arson charges. Court records show the crime has roots going back to when Kelly avoided a murder rap in 2014.

Kelly, 28, pleaded not guilty on Aug. 1 in Umatilla County Circuit Court to six counts of first-degree attempted arson, one count of possessing an explosive device, one count of second-degree criminal mischief and two counts of recklessly endangering others.

The case began almost a year earlier, Aug. 14, 2018, when Umatilla County Fire District 1 received a call-out just before 5 a.m. for a fire at 1100 W. Sunland Ave., Hermiston. According to the search warrant affidavit by Hermiston Police Department Lt. Randy Studebaker, firefighters found a burning Molotov cocktail in broken glass in a rock bed directly beneath a bedroom window.

The incendiary device consisted of a glass soda bottle with duct tape securing a cloth rag for a wick with gasoline remaining in the bottle. The window was open to accommodate an air conditioner on one side, and the bomb struck and broke the outer pane.

Seven people were in the house, including two children.

Hermiston police later that day received a tip, according to the affidavit, identifying Kelly as the person who threw the Molotov in retaliation for one person in the house stealing his guns.

Kelly has convictions in 2013 and 2014 in Umatilla County for delivery of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. The court documents do not reveal how he acquired the guns.

The Blue Mountain Narcotics Enforcement Team the following day raided the house and confiscated guns. Hermiston police returned to the home and questioned one of the occupants.

She was related to Daniel Dechand, the man Kelly shot and killed in 2014 outside Hermiston. A Umatilla County grand jury found Kelly acted in self defense. Still, the court record states, there was tension between Dechand’s relative and Kelly, and they knew that through mutual acquaintances.

They also saw each other not long before at storage units in Hermiston. She admitted to police she and others stole guns from Kelly’s unit.

Police soon tracked down Kelly, who confirmed he was the victim of a storage unit burglary but denied having anything to do with the Molotov cocktail. Police watched video from the storage business that showed the burglary of Kelly’s unit, the affidavit states, and also showed Kelly and two others tried to break into the unit belonging to Dechand’s relative.

The affidavit noted Kelly claimed to be out of town at the time of the burglary, which was 32 minutes before the report of the fire.

The case had a pre-trial proceeding Thursday morning in Pendleton, and Circuit Court Judge Christopher Brauer set a trial readiness hearing for Sept. 12 with the trial starting Sept. 23.

Kelly has three other cases open, all in Umatilla County.

He pleaded not guilty last September to burglary, theft and criminal mischief. That case goes to trial Sept. 25. He also pleaded not guilty in February to failure to appear in the burglary case.

And Kelly on Aug. 1 pleaded not guilty to menacing. The state has alleged he committed the misdemeanor against a man in February 2018. That case goes to trial Sept. 25.

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