SALT LAKE CITY — Saying that he poses a danger to himself and others, a federal magistrate on Monday ordered a man suspected of arson to remain behind bars.
A brief hearing was held Monday to determine whether Dustin Jay Bowman, 33, of Bountiful, should be released from custody as his case moves forward. Bowman is accused of intentionally setting a fire on Feb. 9 that destroyed a 64,000-square-foot apartment building under construction at 540 E. 500 South. The fire caused an estimated $6 million in damage.
According to a federal indictment, when investigators asked Bowman why he started the fire, he said: "Maybe I wanted to see the fire department." He also said he was smoking spice at the time, according to charging documents.
On Monday, assistant U.S. attorney for Utah J. Drew Yeates urged U.S. Magistrate Dustin Pead to consider several "red flags" as he determined whether to release Bowman. Among them, he said Yeates has a history of depression and drug use that has apparently gotten worse over the past year.
"Cleary, this past year has been a very difficult one for Mr. Bowman," he said.
Yeates noted that Bowman attempted suicide in 2013, and that his use of spice in 2013 was "especially bad."
Considering the charge and evidence against him — and the potential weighty penalties he faces — Yeates said it could exacerbate his depression if he were released. Yeates also noted that Bowman has a small history of failing to appear in court and complying with court orders.
Bowman, wearing a tan Salt Lake County Jail jumpsuit and orange sneakers, sat and listened to the proceedings with his hands and feet shackled. He was polite with his attorney and marshals when asked questions.
Defense attorney Jamie Zenger did not try argue for her client's release, saying that he is "realistic" about the circumstances he faces.
"He understands he is going to be detained," she said.
Pead agreed with Yeates, saying that the complaint "speaks for itself," and that Bowman's history shows a "particularly difficult year" in 2013. The judge didn't know if Bowman's continued use of spice, even though he had some "thorough drug treatment," was because of an unwillingness to follow the law or inability because of addiction.
"At this point, I believe detention is appropriate," he said.
Bowman is an electrician who was working at the construction site he allegedly burned down. Prior to his arrest, he posted three photos on his Facebook page labeled "downtown fire aftermath" the day after the blaze and included a link to a news story about it.
"Guess I'm not working Monday," one post states. "New House apartment complex construction burnt down. Anybody want to hire an electrician for a day or two? ... Can't really afford a day off."
An arraignment is scheduled for March 6.
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