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Plea deal offered to North Tonawanda man accused of arson at firefighter's home

LOCKPORT - Matthew W. Jurado, the former North Tonawanda firefighter who confessed to setting a fire in the home of that city's only African-American firefighter, was offered a plea agreement last week.

Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said that Jurado, 40, has been offered a chance to plead guilty to a Class C violent felony.

Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said the charge would be third-degree arson, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. It's a one-step reduction of the original charge, second-degree arson. The maximum sentence for that is 25 years.

Catalano asked for an adjournment to review the evidence has been given by the District Attorney's Office and the notes Jurado made in response. Judge Matthew J. Murphy III put off the case until Feb. 14. If the case is not resolved, a hearing will be required on the legal admissibility of Jurado's confession.

Jurado, 40, told North Tonawanda police that he poured lighter fluid on the couch in the apartment of Kenneth D. Walker and lit it Aug. 3, two days after Walker received a racist, threatening note. No one ever has been charged with sending that note.

Jurado told police he was angry over being kicked out of one North Tonawanda fire company and Walker's inability to get Jurado into another fire company. The two men lived across Oliver Street from each other.

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