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2 Dec 2023

NextImg:Texas Man Who Blamed Hate Crime for Home Blaze That Killed 2 Indicted on Felony Arson Charge

A man who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime when a June 10 fire burned down his rental home in Huntsville, Texas, now stands accused of setting the fire himself.

The fire killed two people, including a relative of the suspect, and injured a third, according to KTRK-TV.

A grand jury charged Mario Roberson with felony arson on Monday. If convicted, Roberson faces five to 99 years in prison.

The charge came after five months of investigation by the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to USA Today.

Prior to the fire, Roberson filed multiple complaints, saying he was being racially targeted with violence and vandalism. San Jacinto County Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer said those claims are still under investigation.

In one incident, Roberson said someone spray-painted the words, “We don’t like your kind,” on his home.

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Another time, Roberson said someone shot at his window, and he believed the attack was racially driven.

Investigators later found a rock by the window and concluded that a lawnmower had likely ejected it.

Roberson also complained about numerous problems with his homeowners’ association, saying that his trash was not picked up by sanitation workers when his neighbors’ trash was collected.

He also asserted that the association had a history of disputes over rental properties.

“People are being terrible because of the hatred in their heart,” Roberson told KTRK at the time of the alleged incidents.

After the fire, Roberson blamed “racism, power, hungriness, [and] money” for the supposedly racially motivated attack on his property and the three victims.

“Look, I feel like this, worn down, torn down,” he said while looking at the aftermath of the fire.

Investigators have uncovered a complex history of financial lawsuits against Roberson in both Oklahoma and Texas, according to KTRK.

The injured survivor of the fire told authorities that he heard the blaze was related to insurance fraud.

“Whoever is doing it, he knows the man with the house,” the victim told investigators immediately after he escaped. “A numbers job or something. That’s all I know.”

As of midweek, Roberson was not in police custody.

KTRK reported that Roberson owed more than $26,000 in back taxes on the home and that San Jacinto County had rendered a decree of sale on the home about a month before the fire for the unpaid taxes.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.