Jury deliberations begin after closing arguments in 3rd day of arson trial

Kenneth Dawson gives closing remarks during his jury trial Thursday, April 28. Dawson faces several felony charges, including arson.

LACASTER — Jury deliberations have begun in the arson trial of a Lancaster man after both the prosecution and defense gave closing remarks Thursday afternoon.

Kenneth Dawson, 35, of 511 S Walnut St, was indicted in March 2021 on counts of arson, a fourth-degree felony; retaliation, a third-degree felony; possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony; and unlawful possession of a deadly ordnance, a fifth-degree felony.

The trial resumed Thursday morning with the cross-examination of Lancaster Police Det. Alex Sinewe, and then redirected questioning from Fairfield County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Balazik.

Two more witnesses were called to testify: Investigator Fred Flickinger, with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and Brady Beavers, a former LPD police officer.

Flickinger described the investigative process, how he pursued questioning with Dawson after he had been named a suspect in the fire at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in February 2021.

Flickinger answered questions from both Balazik and Dawson, who has represented himself in most of the trial. Flickinger discussed the conversations he had with Dawson during the investigations, and asserted he had not threatened him or coerced Dawson into making any false statements.

Beavers discussed her contact with Dawson via social media in order to obtain his location, after an arrest warrant had been issued. Using a false profile, she attempted to arrange a rendezvous, but was unsuccessful. After a short cross-examination, she was released from the stand.

“A David facing a Goliath, a system that doesn’t care”

Balazik began closing arguments by defining the charges against Dawson, including where the evidence corroborated the definitions.

“You can’t overlook the fact that the defendant fully confessed to the arson. Even though the investigation was a process and they slowly built to it, it was fully confessed, with details given to investigators,” Balazik said. “He admitted he was angry at the cops, he planned his revenge after his OVI arrest, and even said he should have stayed at his father’s after being released, he couldn’t control his emotions.”

Dawson began his closing arguments by saying it has been a “long three days” for the jurors, but this ordeal has been even longer for him. He said the jurors saw the evidence “or lack thereof,” throughout the trial.

“We live in a society that allows this kind of fight to take place. I’m the David fighting the Goliath. If this is what I fought for in the military overseas, I’m disappointed,” Dawson said. “There were gray areas throughout the investigations, and I think unless you can tie one piece of evidence to one person, it isn’t good enough.”

Balazik gave a rebuttal, stating the defendant’s theory about a conspiracy against him was disproved during the trial, and reiterates there were several times Dawson confessed to the crime.

He closed his argument with a compilation of Dawson’s police interviews, which include him describing how he planned to avoid detection and “minimize culpability.”

The jury began deliberations shortly after 3:30, and worked until 6 pm They’ll return Friday morning to continue.

Barrett Lawlis is a reporter with the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, part of the USA Today Network. You can share story ideas or comments with him at 740-681-4342 or send an e-mail to blawlis@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis

This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Jury deliberations begin after closing arguments on the 3rd day of the trial

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