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State’s Attorney Comments on Roberts Case

State’s attorney comments on dismissal of arson charges in Roberts case

By Jackie Smith
McDonough County Voice

Macomb – McDonough County State’s Attorney James Hoyle responded to a request for comment Thursday after pending charges against the couple accused of setting fire to a Bushnell restaurant two years ago were dismissed earlier this week.

The fire in this case erupted in the early morning hours of March 10, 2011, at the Brickhouse, 455 W. Main St. Ricky and Allison Roberts, of Macomb and Bushnell, respectively, were arrested the following September. Charges included arson and aggravated arson.

In a statement sent to the McDonough County Voice, Hoyle maintained the charges from the grand jury against Ricky and Allison Roberts were warranted given evidence and when considering the parties’ history of unexplained fires. But out of five fire investigators who reviewed the fire only one positively ruled it was arson.

Three of the investigators noted the suspicious nature of the fire, but could not rule out other possible causes. The final investigator concluded positively that no arson occurred. “While all that is necessary to charge an individual with a crime is probable cause, proving a case requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hoyle said in the statement. “Given the conflicting conclusions about the cause of the fire, I concluded I could no longer meet the burden of proof at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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