Mistake sets arson suspect free without bond

Robert Lee Utley

August 11, 2011 7:16:14 PM PDT
Arson suspect Robert Utley is back behind bars for allegedly setting fire to an apartment last Friday.

A mistake made by a magistrate temporarily allowed the 36-year-old to walk free without bond. He was allowed to offer a note with a written promise to appear before a judge, despite the arson charge and his three-page criminal record.

ABC11 Eyewitness News spoke with Chief District Court Judge Robert Rader who said he can't comment on pending cases. However, he said he took action "the moment he heard about it."

Judge Rader said he spoke with the chief magistrate and asked him to make sure all judicial officials are aware of the judicial policies in the district relating to bonds.

The Judge was unable to comment on whether disciplinary actions are underway.

According to Utley's wife, her husband's temper is what led to him set the fire at Leaves and Trees, burning 16 people out of their homes.

"We were celebrating his birthday, and we got into an altercation," she said.

Now, after five years of marriage, she says she's filing for divorce.

Utley is now behind bars under a $2M bond.

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