Boyfriend admits lighting fire
Man says he also put out the blaze in fatal arson
Derrick Nunnally, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Aug. 16, 2007
The boyfriend Deshon Tucker treated "like a king" burned her to death Saturday, according to criminal charges filed by Milwaukee prosecutors Thursday.
Martin Ray Fitzgerald initially denied he set the fire that killed Tucker, 40, in her N. 60th St. apartment and injured Tucker's niece, claiming instead that Tucker set herself on fire before he ran away and didn't call the fire department, the criminal complaint says.
Eventually, Fitzgerald, 43, owned up to lighting a fire and other crimes: bank robberies in June and July using a fake bomb, a Walgreens stick-up in July when he dressed as a woman "to try to throw the police off of his normal bank robbery routine," and finally, a bank robbery with a $110 pistol the day after Tucker died, the court records state.
Altogether, Fitzgerald faces seven felony counts: first-degree intentional homicide of Tucker, first-degree reckless injury of Tucker's niece, arson of their apartment building and four counts of armed robbery. Combined, the charges carry a maximum possible prison sentence of life plus 125 years if Fitzgerald is convicted.
The criminal complaint says Tucker was found dead near the sink of her apartment, while her niece, who jumped out a window, survived but has burns to 40% of her skin.
From her hospital bed, the niece, 24, gave detectives a narrative of Tucker's grisly death, which the criminal complaint details:
The niece, who lived in the same apartment as Tucker and Fitzgerald, had been wakened by a loud argument, which she tried to break up. After Tucker threatened to call the police, Fitzgerald responded "I'll burn this whole (expletive) house down." He produced a gas can and sprayed them with liquid, then lighted a newspaper on the gas stove and hurled the newspaper at them.
Fitzgerald told police Tucker had accused him of "messing around with a 21-year-old woman," though he said she was "a good cook" who treated him "like a king," the complaint says. In a second interview, he said he did light a fire, which he claimed he also put it out, it says.