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Clark couple pleads not guilty to arson

A Winchester couple has been charged with arson in a Dec. 17 fire that damaged the rental house where they lived.

Debra Poole, 31, and Anthony Poole, 29, each were charged Tuesday afternoon with second-degree arson, said Winchester police Capt. James Hall. They pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Clark District Court.

Hall said the Pooles were charged after an investigation found inconsistencies in the couple's statements and the evidence.

The Pooles, their seven children and another adult relative were unhurt in the Dec. 17 fire on East Broadway in Winchester. The fire started in the living room and caused smoke damage throughout the house, Hall said.

Hall said the Pooles were not charged in another fire in Huntington, W. Va., in December 2006. No other details were immediately available about that fire, but Hall said police received an anonymous tip about that fire and were trying to learn more.

After the Winchester blaze, the Pooles received "a substantial outpouring from the community in dollars and material good donations" collected through Grace Baptist Church, Hall said.

The Pooles remained in the Clark County jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond on each. Their children are staying with relatives, Hall said.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled next Wednesday in district court, at which time a judge will hear evidence to determine whether to send the case to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Second-degree arson is a Class C felony, punishable by five to 10 years in prison.