ELKHORN

A town of Delavan man whom prosecutors previously charged on five counts of arson set fire to a shed next to his house on Christmas morning while he was released on bond, according to an amended criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Walworth County Court.

When first responders arrived at the fire at 2803 Darlington St., Daniel J. Zitella told them, “I hope you drop the charges on me now because it happened to me too,” according to the complaint.

Just six days earlier, Zitella, 29, had been released from custody on $1,000 cash bond, court records show. Prosecutors connected him to arsons from two years ago, about five months ago and last month.

Responders reported the shed was a total loss and that the garage next to it sustained some damage, the complaint states. A neighbor reported hearing what sounded like an explosion before 9 a.m.

Online court records from a December hearing say Zitella has “severe” mental health disabilities.

Following the Christmas incident, Judge Daniel Johnson ordered Zitella held on a $10,000 cash bond.

The amended complaint added three charges to the five Zitella already faced: One count each of arson, obstructing an officer and felony bail jumping.

In the amended complaint, police said they did not believe Zitella was being truthful on several points, including his differing accounts of what he was doing that morning—both being awake since 5:30 a.m. and being awoken by his cat while the fire was burning.

Zitella said they were twisting his words.

Additionally, Zitella had recently made a complaint that someone had cut the lock off his shed, but police believed the lock was removed with bolt cutters—a pair of which they found on site, the complaint states.

After telling him about the bolt cutters they found, Zitella told police the interview was over, according to the complaint.

Police also found a propane cylinder commonly used for a blowtorch and an exploded propane cylinder.

The earlier fires, which mostly were because of disputes with owners, were on Dec. 10 and 12, Aug. 3 and 4, and December 2016, according to the complaint.

On Dec. 19, Zitella’s lawyer, Frank Lettenberger, filed a motion to dismiss two of his client’s five original charges because the criminal complaint did not include the amount of damage to a lawnmower and a Jet Ski.

Wednesday’s amended complaint added the damage estimates, which are $200 for the lawnmower and $1,800 for the Jet Ski.

After alluding to a potential change in attorney, Zitella is scheduled to appear in court at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, to make sure his legal situation is worked out. He then has a preliminary hearing set the next day.

GazetteXtra.com does not condone or review every comment. Read more in our Commenter Policy Agreement

  • Keep it clean. Comments that are obscene, vulgar or sexually oriented will be removed. Creative spelling of such terms or implied use of such language is banned, also.
  • Don't threaten to hurt or kill anyone.
  • Be nice. No racism, sexism or any other sort of -ism that degrades another person.
  • Harassing comments. If you are the subject of a harassing comment or personal attack by another user, do not respond in-kind. Use the "Report comment abuse" link below to report offensive comments.
  • Share what you know. Give us your eyewitness accounts, background, observations and history.
  • Do not libel anyone. Libel is writing something false about someone that damages that person's reputation.
  • Ask questions. What more do you want to know about the story?
  • Stay focused. Keep on the story's topic.
  • Help us get it right. If you spot a factual error or misspelling, email newsroom@gazettextra.com or call 1-800-362-6712.
  • Remember, this is our site. We set the rules, and we reserve the right to remove any comments that we deem inappropriate.

Report comment abuse

Comments disabled.