Madison County

Williamsburg man indicted in EKU dorm fire

RICHMOND — A Madison County grand jury has indicted a Williamsburg man on an arson charge that stems from an October dorm fire at Eastern Kentucky University.

Samuel Stephen McFarland, 19, also was indicted last week on charges of first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree criminal mischief, promoting contraband and possession of a controlled substance.

McFarland, a freshman who lived in 20-story Commonwealth Hall, was arrested by EKU police in October. The fires, on the eighth and 19th floors, damaged the walls and activated the building's sprinkler systems. No injuries were reported among the dorm's 422 students.

The arson indictment says McFarland started a fire in Commonwealth Hall on Oct. 13 with the intent to damage or destroy it "while the building was occupied."

The criminal-mischief charge says McFarland intentionally damaged a sprinkler/alarm system inside the dorm, causing more than $1,000 in damage.

The wanton-endangerment charge says McFarland, in damaging the sprinkler/alarm system, caused the device to "fail on several floors," and thus manifested "an extreme indifference to the value of human life" and created a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to the students living in the dorm.

McFarland was indicted on a charge of promoting contraband because he alledgedly brought a narcotic into the Madison County Detention Center on Oct. 14. Authorities did not identify the narcotic.

Brandon West of Corbin, McFarland's attorney, filed discovery motions this week seeking any written or recorded statements McFarland made to investigators.

McFarland, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 12 before Madison Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue.

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