California man guilty in Charleston arson death

Carl Magee III was convicted Wednesday afternoon.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A California man will spend the rest of his life in prison following his conviction Wednesday on murder by arson charges.

A 12-member jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding Carl Magee III guilty in the July 2017 death of Rachel Jarrett. The jury later deliberated the penalty phase of the trial and decided Magee should not be granted mercy. He will not have an opportunity for parole.

Jarrett and David Barrett Sr., who were both homeless, were sleeping on the front porch of a Charleston residence when Magee approached with a can of gasoline. He poured it on and around the pair before setting the fire. Barrett woke up and ran away before the fire began.

The prosecution’s case was greatly enhanced by video from a security camera that showed Magee committing the crime.

“It was pretty graphic, but it’s crystal clear as video as you’re ever going to watch,” Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller said.

Defense attorney Rick Hollicker told the jury Magee didn’t deny he set the fire but he was on synthetic marijuana when it happened. Hollicker said the drug can cause hallucinations.

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