Two Former Firefighters Have Been Found Not Guilty

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

Two former eastern Kentucky firefighters charged with intentionally setting a major forest fire in Bell County in 2005 have been found not guilty.

Brothers Donald Caudill and Barnell Caudill, Junior were both temporary employees with the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Donald Caudill says the last two years have been very rough on him and his brother.

Everywhere they go, people talking and whispering, presuming their guilt instead of innocence.

Donald and Barnell Caudill Junior were originally indicted by a Bell County Grand Jury and charged with willfully setting fire on land not owned or controlled by them.

Investigators believed the Caudills started a fire in April of 2005 in the Elliott Branch area of Bell County, and accused them of trying to prevent other firefighters from fighting the fire.

A jury last month ultimately found them not guilty of the charges.

“It means a lot. We waited two years to prove our innocence, and we're finally glad to get a chance to do it,” Caudill said.

“There are agencies and officials who are going to investigate the settings of these fires, and when the evidence so warrants, people will be prosecuted,” Bell County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Karen Greene said.

Officials with the department of forestry say they respect the jury's decision but are terribly disappointed with the verdict.

Officials say the Caudills will not be getting their jobs back.

Meanwhile, the Caudills say they're just trying to move on with their lives.

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