A Watertown man admitted Friday in Jefferson County Court that he was trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend when he set a fire that destroyed a High Street apartment building in May.
Joshua D. Metzler, 26, whose last known address was 717 State St., pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree attempted murder and single counts of second-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree assault.
He admitted that on May 15 he set a fire that destroyed 239 High St. in an attempt to kill tenant Ashley L. Carr and Eric P. Daymont II.
He told Judge Kim H. Martusewicz that he poured gasoline on the front porch of the eight-unit apartment building and then ignited it.
I used gasoline as an accelerant, he said. I lit a piece of paper and threw it.
Mr. Metzler, who told Judge Martusewicz he had been drinking before the incident, also admitted he knew other people were inside the building and that some may have been sleeping, creating a grave risk of death to the residents. He further admitted his actions caused Jessica V. Lewis to suffer an injury when she was forced to jump from a second-story window to escape the blaze. She suffered a broken tailbone and a sprained ankle.
Mr. Metzler initially was charged with arson, but District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert said she was preparing to present that charge, as well as the attempted murder, reckless endangerment and assault charges, to a grand jury. Before entering his pleas, Mr. Metzler waived his rights to a grand jury proceeding.
He is expected to be sentenced Nov. 9 to 14 years in state prison, followed by five additional years of supervision upon his release. He will be ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution in the form of a civil judgment to the company that insured the building on behalf of its owner, Ricky E. Frazier, Glen Park.
He also will be ordered to pay an unspecified amount of restitution to tenants who lost their belongings in the fire.