Convicted arsonist loses appeal

Police approach 84 High St. in Naugatuck in 2006. Ryan Ramey, a Naugatuck man, barricaded himself inside the home and was convicted of lighting it on fire. –RA ARCHIVE

Police approach 84 High St. in Naugatuck in 2006. Ryan Ramey, a Naugatuck man, barricaded himself inside the home and was convicted of lighting it on fire. –RA ARCHIVE

HARTFORD — A three-judge appeals court split over whether a convicted arsonist who burned down an apartment building in Naugatuck in 2006 deserves a new trial because he was drunk when he committed the crime.

Ryan Ramey failed to win a new trial based on his claim that he received ineffective counsel during his 2008 trial, according to a decision released Monday.

Judges Bethany Avlord and Christine Keller of the state Appellate Court upheld a Superior Court judge’s rejection of Ramey’s petition for habeas corpus.

Ramey had claimed that his defense attorney, H. Jeffrey Beck, failed to raise an intoxication defense to the arson charge that he faced.

In his habeas petition, Ramey, 37, asserted Beck should have argued that he could not have formed a specific intent to commit arson because his blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.

In a dissenting opinion, Senior Judge Joseph Pellegrino agreed with Ramey, saying that there was credible evidence available that he did not intend damage the apartment building because he was intoxicated at the time the fire started.

Two years ago, another three-judge panel of the Appellate Court rejected Ramey’s appeal of his convictions for first-degree arson and interfering with a police officer

In February 2009, he received a 12-year prison sentence, suspended after eight years. He is serving his sentence at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville.

On appeal, Ramey unsuccessfully argued that the evidence against him was insufficient to prove that he intentionally set the fire to the six-family house at 84 High St. in Naugatuck, that he intended to destroy the building and that he believed the apartments were occupied.

At his sentencing, Ramey stated that he did not remember setting fire to the apartment building, or police trying to talk him out of the building, or leaping from a second-floor baloney and landing face-first on the pavement just before flames engulfed the house.

He also cited an addiction to alcohol.

Additionally, Ramey told his sentencing judge that he was distraught because his ex-fiancée had left him and taken his two young sons weeks before the incident.

He called the woman on the morning of the fire and indicated a desire to commit suicide, and she then contacted Naugatuck police.

Police officers arrived to find Ramey barricaded in the building. Police tried to make telephone contact 20 times, but he refused to speak to officers.

Police noticed the house going up in flames after an hour on the scene. Ramey came out on a balcony at one point, but retreated back inside. He jumped about 30 minutes later.

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