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Lawyer says Jeannette man wasn't around when fires set

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Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The attorney for a Jeannette man accused of torching three vacant properties in the city over the last three years said his client was not even in the city when the fires were set.

Defense lawyer Harry Smail Jr. said Roger W. Adair, 27, has an alibi for when the three homes were set on fire dating back to 2009.

“He lived in a different area then and therefore it was not possible for him to be involved with those fires,” Smail said during a hearing Thursday before Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell.

Adair lived miles away, in New Kensington, when the fires were set, according to Smail.

“He didn't have a means of transportation at that time,” Smail said.

Bell on Thursday gave Smail, who is court-appointed, permission to spend up to $3,000 to hire a private investigator to help prove Adair was not present when the fires were set.

Police contend Adair and a group of four other men, including his brother, intentionally set fires throughout Jeannette over a three-year period.

Adair was charged with arson in connection with fires at 509-551 Chambers Ave. on Sept. 3, 2009, 118 N. Fifth St. on Nov. 18, 2010, and 324 Chestnut St. on Feb. 3, 2012.

Adair's brother, Richard Adair, 26, is charged in connection with the Nov. 18, 2010, blaze and two other fires.

Jeffrey Robert Tierney Jr., 24, and John Raymond Horne, 21, are charged in connection with four fires set in the city, including one at the former Monsour Medical Center.

All are charged with arson, criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass and risking catastrophe.

Roger Adair and Horne are charged with aggravated assault in the February 2012 blaze because a firefighter was injured.

A 17-year-old juvenile accused in one blaze has been ordered to a fire-setter rehabilitation program.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or

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