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DNA evidence cited in St. Tammany man’s woods arson plea

October 15, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said a St. Tammany Parish man pleaded guilty to simple arson and manufacture of a delayed action incendiary device and was sentenced to ten years hard labor by Judge Richard Schwartz of the 22nd Judicial Court in Covington.
Kenneth W. Singletary, 49, 72533 R. Singletary Road, Pearl River, was arrested in March 2006 and charged with two counts of simple arson and manufacture of an incendiary device. Singletary set fires on land owned by Weyerhaeuser Forest Products along La. Hwy. 1088 between Hwy. 36 and Interstate 12.
Singletary pleaded guilty on Sept. 17.
Strain said Forestry Investigator Roy St. Pierre collected DNA evidence from the remains of delayed incendiary devices found at the fire scenes and sent the specimens to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory for analysis. An arrest was made after the State Police Lab matched the DNA to Singletary.
“Roy conducted a thorough investigation that combined old-fashioned investigatory techniques as well as incorporating the latest advances in DNA match technology and forensic science,” Strain said.
In addition to the State Police, Strain said the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Forest Service all assisted in the investigation.
“The fires were all contained quickly but any woods fire has the potential to cause major damage to property and homes,” Strain said. “Woods arson is a very serious crime and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry will investigate all cases fully.”
Schwartz suspended Singletary’s sentence, ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine and restitution. Singletary will also be under probation for five years.