Case against Schenectady arson suspect dropped

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Updated: 2/08 3:33 pm

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - A high profile Schenectady arson case against a local man has been dropped, according to court documents.

Robert Butler was previously charged in a federal complaint with setting the May 2 fire that killed 33-year-old David Terry, 3-year-old Layah Terry, 2-year-old Michael Terry, and 11-month-old Donavan Duell. Safyre Terry, 5, was also badly burned and remained in critical condition for a number of days following the incident.

The Saratoga Springs man was arrested shortly after the deadly blaze at 438 Hulett Street. His case was bumped up to the federal court, meaning he could face a possible death sentence.

On Friday, the United States Attorney's Office dropped their case against Butler. The man left the Rensselaer County Jail a free man.

Terry Kinlon, a local defense attorney said he wasn't surprised about the move.

Butler's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Timothy Austin said his client is innocent. Austin said that after reviewing the surveillance video, they identified another man coming and going from the Hulett Street home at the time of the tragic fire.

However, the case was dismissed without prejudice, which means Butler could face further charges.

Court documents state the dismissal stems from the case involving "unusual and complex facts," with the complaint based upon allegations that the defendant used gasoline to start the fire. The documents go on to explain that the gravity of the crime and potential punishments "necessitate further investigation." 

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