TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Tyler man has been indicted for arson causing death in the May house fire that killed his brother.
Robert Harrison Johnson IV, 32, was indicted on Aug. 25 and a jury trial has been set for his case for Nov. 14. According to an affidavit, Johnson told investigators “spirits” prevented him from putting out the fire.
“Robert stated that a ‘ghost’ prevented him from putting it out, so he just walked out leaving Jack in the residence,” the affidavit said. “Robert stated spirits made him leave while Jack was still in the house.”
Jack Ross, Johnson’s brother who had been disabled since suffering a stroke at the age of 2, was found deceased inside the residence by first responders and pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigations that followed the fire, including an interview with Johnson and other family members, reportedly revealed that Johnson had been smoking in his room when the cherry fell out of the cigarette and landed on a towel that was on the floor.
Johnson told police in his interview that he could smell it burning, and as it began to smoke he felt the need to leave, according to the affidavit.
In the affidavit, detectives noted that in Johnson’s account of the night, he made no attempts to extinguish or report the fire and did not attempt to save the life of his handicap brother who was in the immediate adjacent room.
Johnson has remained in custody since June, and his bond has been set at $1 million.