Man pleads not guilty in Tacoma day care arson

Staff writerNovember 1, 2013 

One of six people charged in connection with a fire set at a Tacoma church day care last year pleaded not guilty Friday.

Kenneth Baines Jr., 24, is charged with first-degree arson, first-degree attempted arson, second-degree conspiracy to commit arson, theft of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission.

Pierce County Commissioners Meagan Foley set Baines' bail at $250,000. He is already jailed on an unrelated robbery case.

Also charged in the May 2, 2012, incident at the Church of God in Christ center on Pacific Avenue are Alvin Lee, 26; Darcy Chase, 30; Eugene Henderson, 27; Jonathan Hazel, 26; and Mitchell Knapp-Patterson, 21.

Lee and Henderson have not yet been arrested and bench warrants have been issued.

Some of the defendants told police they started several small fires at the day care and deliberately rammed a stolen van into the building as part of an insurance scam, though authorities have declined to detail the scam or who would benefit.

Baines is accused of offering Knapp-Patterson money to steal a car and crash it into a church. He admitted to being present the night of the vandalism but claims he walked away before the fire was lit at the day care.

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