A Hempstead man pleaded guilty Thursday to setting a 2016 house fire — which led to a 12-year-old girl jumping from a second-floor window in order to escape, leaving her with injuries and a permanent limp, according to the Nassau County district attorney’s office.
The man, Christful Fouse, 36, who had been at large for nearly three years and was arrested in March, is to be sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years' post-release supervision after pleading to second-degree arson, a felony, according to the office's spokeswoman, Miriam Sholder. Formal sentencing is Feb. 3, records show.
The plea was before Teresa Corrigan, the supervising judge of Nassau County Court in Mineola, a statement from the district attorney's office said.
In November, Fouse had been arraigned on charges of first-, second- and third-degree arson, first- and second-degree assault, and first-degree reckless endangerment.
Fouse's rap sheet dates back to at least 2003 and includes guilty pleas and jail time for drugs, assault, bail jumping and theft, court records show. Fouse also recently pleaded guilty to unrelated domestic violence, the specifics of which were not immediately available. The records list him as homeless in several of his cases.
A message left Friday with the office of Fouse’s court-appointed attorney, Andrew Monteleone, was not returned.
Fouse started the fire the morning of June 30, 2016, when he entered the home on Long Beach Road in Hempstead and "got into a physical altercation" with three acquaintances inside. The dispute had arisen because two of the people in the home told someone who had been giving Fouse money that he no longer to needed to give Fouse the money, angering Fouse, Sholder said in an email.
Fouse left, returned 10 to 15 minutes later with a gas-filled water bottle, poured it on a couch, and set the fire, the statement said.
At the time, the girl was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, the statement said. One of the men inside the house tried to wake her up by knocking on the door, but the door was locked and she didn't respond.
Sholder said the girl's father had been renting a room upstairs "and she happened to be present."
The girl, now 16, suffered a fractured spine and right foot that caused a permanent limp, the statement said. Screws and “other medically implanted hardware” will remain in her foot for the rest of her life. She was the only one injured.
Sholder did not say where Fouse had been hiding until his arrest or how he was eventually tracked down.