Raleigh police accuse one car-wash resident of arson against another

From staff reportsMarch 7, 2013 

Daricus Lemark Smith

WAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

— Police say a 43-year-old man who lived in a room at a car wash on Wake Forest Road set fire to another resident’s room in the building last month.

Police arrested Daricus Lemark Smith on Wednesday and charged him with first-degree arson. They say Smith lived in the room in a rear building at the Gentle Touch Car Wash at 2907 Wake Forest Road when firefighters were called there about 4 a.m. on Feb. 25.

A fire department report said the fire was set in a corner of a room and that four people lived in the building, though a worker at the car wash said later that day that there were no residents.

According to an arrest warrant, Smith set fire to the room of Bobby Lee Kearney, or, in the words of the warrant, “did maliciously burn the dwelling house inhabited” by Kearney.

The day of the fire, police and firefighters both said they were certain people had been living in the building, which sits at the back of the property where cars were hand-washed in a smaller building closer to the road.

The fire sent one person to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, officials said.

Under state law, police can charge first-degree arson only when the crime involves an occupied building.

Gentle Touch is associated with the Sudz car wash at 413 W. Peace St.

Calls to both facilities went unanswered Thursday.

Smith, whose arrest record lists convictions for assault on a female, driving while impaired and other misdemeanors, was being held in lieu of $201,000 bail on the arson charge and one of not showing up at court for another charge.

He told police that he is a self-employed carpenter, according to an arrest report.

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