Connecticut Man Found Guilty of Setting Fire That Killed Three Individuals, Including 8-Year-Old Boy
Defendant’s Father Also Found Guilty of Being an Accessory to the Arson
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 18, 2013|
NEW HAVEN, CT—A federal jury in New Haven has found Hector Natal, also known as “Boom” and “Boom Boom,” 27, of New Haven, guilty of committing the March 9, 2011 arson of a multi-family house in New Haven, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David B. Fein. The arson caused the deaths of three residents, 42-year-old Wanda Roberson, her 8-year-old son Quayshawn Roberson, and her 21-year-old niece Jaquetta Roberson. The jury also found Natal, together with his father, Hector Morales, 51, of New Haven, guilty of participating in a narcotics distribution business, which led to the arson, and tampering with witnesses in an effort to obstruct the grand jury investigation of the arson. Morales further aided Natal by altering evidence in order to obstruct the investigation. The trial of Natal and Morales began on March 25, 2013 and, this afternoon, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of an 11-count indictment. The announcement of today’s verdict was made by U.S. Attorney Fein; Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the FBI; New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman; and New Haven Fire Chief Michael Grant.
“Today, a unanimous jury found that Hector Natal set fire to a home where families and children lived, three of whom tragically perished, and that he was guilty as charged,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The jury also unanimously found that Natal’s father, Hector Morales, assisted his son’s narcotics trafficking and then helped his son try to cover-up this terrible crime. Today, our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Justice has been served, and we thank our law enforcement partners, particularly the FBI, Connecticut State Police, New Haven Police Department, and New Haven Fire Department, who have worked tirelessly during the investigation and prosecution of this matter.”
“Today’s guilty verdict will hopefully provide some level of comfort to the Fair Haven community and especially to those who lost loved ones as a result of the 2011 arson on Wolcott Street,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “Dedicated investigators and prosecutors have worked together diligently since day one to ensure justice for the victims of that horrific crime.”
“The New Haven Police Department is gratified for the strong working relationship with the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing justice to all the victims in this case,” stated Chief Esserman.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our firefighters’ outstanding efforts in responding so bravely to this deadly arson and our law enforcement partners who brought this case to justice,” stated Chief Grant.
According to the evidence presented during trial, Natal was a New Haven drug dealer who sold cocaine, crack cocaine, pills, and marijuana. Morales served as Natal’s driver, facilitating his sales of narcotics and collection of drug proceeds. Early on the morning of March 9, 2011, Natal set fire to the two-family house in retaliation for a customer’s failure to pay a drug debt. After the fire was set, Morales drove Natal away from the scene in his blue van. Morales thereafter painted his van black in an effort to obstruct the investigation. Natal and Morales then schemed with other family members to testify falsely before the grand jury in order to prevent the grand jury from developing evidence regarding Natal’s and Morales’ complicity in the arson.
The evidence at trial also showed that, months before the fatal fire, Natal attempted to set a fire in the same house.
Natal was found guilty of three counts of arson resulting in death. This charge carries a mandatory minimum term of seven years’ imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment on each count. He also was found guilty of one count of attempted arson, which carries a mandatory minimum term of five years of imprisonment and a maximum term of 20 years.
Natal and Morales were both convicted of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiring to tamper with witnesses, and witness tampering. Each of these charges carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Additionally, Morales was found guilty on three counts of being an accessory after the fact to the arson, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years, and one count of destruction and concealment of evidence, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
Natal has been detained since his arrest on June 14, 2011, and Morales has been detained since his arrest on July 19, 2012.
This matter has been investigated by the FBI; the New Haven Police Department; the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Unit; Office of the State Fire Marshal; the New Haven Fire Department-Office of Fire Marshal; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson, with assistance and support from the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office.