CASS COUNTY, Texas. (KTAL/KMSS) – An East Texas man has been convicted for setting his ex-wife’s house on fire, stealing a firearm, trespassing, and making a false report to police.
According to the Cass County District Attorney’s Office, after two days of testimony, a jury found Larry Rolin Jurek, 64 guilty.
A jury then returned a sentence of life in prison, a $10,000 fine, two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine, one year in county jail and a $4,000 fine, and 180 days in county jail and a $2,000 fine.
Back on February 7, 2019, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, along with two volunteer fire departments responded to a house fire.
Officials say the caller, Melanie Meyers, told officials that her ex-husband, Jurek, had set her house on fire.
When officers arrived, Jurek told them that he “woke up to smoke, rolled out of bed, and crawled through the kitchen to the front door.” He later stated that he “woke up coughing and was hollering for his wife…and went all through the house.”
When asked what had caused the fire, Jurek said that his ex-wife had put an oil lamp on the floor beside the bed so he could see in the dark because he had no electricity, and he thought he kicked it over.
Melanie Meyers testified about her divorce and how she was afraid of Jurek. During the divorce, Meyers was awarded the trailer home, and all firearms. Jurek had 14 days to leave the home and he refused to go.
On February 1, 2019, Meyers had the electricity to the home turned off in an attempt to force Jurek out. A few days later, she had a criminal trespass warning served on him. Meyers received telephone calls in the days leading up to the fire from two of Jurek’s children asking if he had burned her house down yet. On Feb. 7 at 5:45 a.m., Larry Jurek knocked on Meyer’s door, who lived on the same property in a home with her sister, and told his ex-wife that she needed to call someone because the house was filled with smoke.
While talking to Larry Jurek on the scene, Cass County deputies noted that Jurek was fully dressed with pens in his shirt and a hat on his head. He also did not smell like smoke, but he claimed he had been inside the house three times to make sure no one was inside. Additionally, Jurek was certain that it was either 4:44 or 4:45 a.m. when he first left the house. He did not notify Meyers, and therefore emergency personnel, that the house was on fire until an hour later. Deputies also noted that Jurek’s Corvette, which was always parked outside his home, had been parked at the neighbor’s home. After arresting Jurek for trespassing, a lighter was found in his pocket.
“Arson cases are often difficult cases to prove. Deputies that responded to the scene did an excellent job documenting the scene and asking the relevant questions which allowed us to prove that Larry Jurek was lying about how this fire started. The investigators also did a great job following up with search warrants and obtaining additional evidence to prove this case. We could not have secured a conviction without their hard work and dedication.”Courtney Shelton , Cass County Criminal District Attorney
After finding him guilty, the jury heard from the defendant’s son, who testified that his father had been providing him pain killers and other narcotic medications from the time he was 13 years old up until he was about 30 years old.
“We are very grateful to the jury for their guilty verdicts on the arson case and the additional charges. We also thank them for the life sentence they assessed after hearing the full story of this defendant’s long history of devious behavior – the callous neglect towards his children years ago, killing beloved family pets, and possible involvement in numerous other structure fires and getting away with it,” said Cass County First Assistant District Attorney Nick Ross.
“Jurek was a con man who didn’t care who he hurt or terrorized, and society is much safer with him behind bars.”