Firefighter found guilty of murder in deadly fire

February 19, 2010 8:28:07 PM PST
A volunteer firefighter accused of setting a fire on Long Island that killed a mother and three of her children has been found guilty of murder as well as manslaughter, arson and reckless endangerment. Edit Vanegas lost four members of his family in that fire. On Friday, Edit Vanegas thought he had lost any hope of getting justice.

He broke down outside the courtroom, his grief spilling out into the open, as friends and family tried desperately to console him.

Exactly a year ago, fire tore through Vanegas' Lawrence, Long Island home.

It was arson. The fire started in the building's staircase, blocking an escape route, and trapping and killing his wife, 46-year-old Morena Vanegas, and three of their children, ages 9, 13 and 19.

A jury found volunteer firefighter Caleb Lacey guilty of arson and murder.

Prosecutors had argued that Lacey intentionally set the blaze so that he could be a hero, rushing to the fire and saving the people inside.

Authorities say a video showed the rookie arrived at the Lawrence-Cedarhurst firehouse two minutes before the alarm.

A Nassau County jury convicted him today, but the jury also acquitted him of the most serious charges.

A distraught Edit Vanegas erupted. We're told he didn't understand the verdict until someone explained that he did finally get the justice he had been seeking.

But there would be one more emotional upheaval as Vanegas charged back into the courtroom with officers.

After hearing the verdicts, Lacey shook his head, turned from the judge and appeared to try an escape.

He was subdued almost immediately by at least a dozen court officers.