Case of man accused of setting volunteer firefighter’s home on fire scheduled for trial

(Matthew Jurado)

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The case of a man accused of setting a volunteer firefighter’s home on fire is scheduled to go to trial.

Matthew Jurado, 39, was arraigned on a 2nd degree arson charge in Niagara County court Thursday, after a grand jury voted to formally indict him.

Jurado was arrested after an August fire at the North Tonawanda home of his neighbor, Ken Walker. Before the fire, Walker, an African American, received a threatening, racist letter that demanded he quit the fire service.

Court documents obtained by News 4 revealed details about Jurado’s conversation with police. According to the documents, he told them he put a plastic bottle containing lighter fluid on Walker’s couch before lighting it.

Two days after the fire, Jurado made his first court appearance to answer for an arson charge. Jurado also did not claim responsibility for the letter.

Previously, Jurado was suspended from a different fire department after he did not complete his training. Walker told police that Jurado asked him to get him an application for the department Walker was a member of — the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Company.

Jurado was informed by Walker via text that he was not allowed to join the department “after what happened,” Walker says.

Regarding the fire, court documents show that Jurado told police “It wasn’t racial, nothing Iike that. I was pissed about the Fire Department.”

Jurado appeared in court on Thursday. He remains free on $50,000 bail. Following a pre-trial conference on Jan. 26, his trial is scheduled to begin on April 24.

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