ARRAIGNMENT in PEEKSKILL ARSON/HOMICIDES
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced today that Jason Bethea (DOB 02/29/76) of 237 Union Avenue, Peekskill, New York was arraigned on a six count indictment charging him with:
relating to the deaths of his mother and step father.
On October 25, 2008, at about 10:30 P.M., Peekskill firefighters responded to a working house fire at 737 Lindbergh Avenue. The Peekskill police arrived at the scene moments thereafter.
Upon extinguishing the fire, the bodies of Cathy and Tom Asaro, the mother and stepfather of the defendant, were found dead at the scene by firefighters in a back room of the house.
Determination by the Medical Examiner was that Cathy Asaro died of blunt force trauma with fractures of her cervical spine, nose and ribs.
Thomas Asaro died of blunt force trauma with fractures of his skull as well as asphyxia due to smoke inhalation and burns to his body.
Arson investigators found that the fire scene revealed multiple points of origin with evidence of pour patterns indicative of accelerant use.
Peekskill Police developed information regarding activity that night at the Asaro house and questioned the defendant the following day.
On October 26th, 2008 police arrested Bethea and charged him with the homicides.
Bethea’s next court appearance will be on January 22nd, 2009.
The defendant’s remand status is continued.
He faces a maximum of life without parole in state prison on each of the top counts of the indictment.
Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward, Chief of the Career Criminal Bureau, will prosecute the case.
In compliance with Disciplinary Rule 7-107A of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, you are advised that a charge is
merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed
innocent until and unless proven guilty.