Crime

Housekeeper used machete to protect employer from boyfriend before Lexington fire, investigator testifies

William Smith, who was passing by when he saw the fire, put water on the burning Leestown Road house on Sept. 18. Volunteers got the owner and his dogs to safety.
William Smith, who was passing by when he saw the fire, put water on the burning Leestown Road house on Sept. 18. Volunteers got the owner and his dogs to safety. Herald-Leader

A Lexington housekeeper, armed with a machete, and her employer hid in a second-floor bedroom while her boyfriend set fire to the home, as he had threatened to do, according to testimony Thursday.

In a court hearing for convicted bank robber and parolee Adam Duff, Lexington fire Capt. Chris O'Bryan described events that led to the Sept. 18 fire on Leestown Road that trapped Clarence Woodrum, 68, on a second-floor balcony. Duff, 27, is accused of setting the fire and committing a subsequent, unrelated robbery and shooting.

Duff is charged with first-degree arson, two counts of attempted murder and a count of second-degree wanton endangerment in the Leestown fire. He also was charged with first-degree robbery in the shooting.

O'Bryan said the housekeeper, who was not identified, had been fighting with Duff when she grabbed the machete and locked Woodrum and herself in his bedroom because she feared for both of them. In response, Duff said, "I'll leave, but I'll set your (expletive) house on fire," O'Bryan testified. Duff set the fire in the sunroom at the back of the house, the arson investigator said.

The housekeeper saw smoke, jumped off the balcony and helped passers-by get Woodrum down from the balcony, O'Bryan said.

Retired firefighter's son helped save Lexington man in fire

A few nights after the fire, Duff got into a fight with another man over a cocaine deal during a card game, a Lexington police officer testified.

Duff shot the man in the leg, about five inches above the kneecap, the officer testified.

District Judge Megan Lake Thornton found probable cause on all charges and waived them to a grand jury for review.

A charge of fleeing and evading also was waived to a grand jury.

Thornton also suggested that Duff's bond be reviewed, because it might be too low for the severity of the charges. A prosecutor said he would file a motion Thursday to review the bond.

Duff was recently released on parole after being convicted of second-degree robbery, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections website.

In correspondence in his court file, Duff wrote that he finished serving four years for theft, third-degree burglary and giving an officer a false name on April 1, 2009. Thirteen days later, Duff robbed a Chase Bank on North Broadway, according to the documents.

He pleaded guilty to robbing the bank and received a 10-year sentence, five more than the recommended sentence, according to the documents. Duff had been released on parole on July 1, according to the documents.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments