Warrant issued on Poplar Bluff teen in burning incident

Thursday, October 1, 2009

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A warrant was issued today for the arrest of a Poplar Bluff teenager after he was charged with squirting gasoline on another teen and then lighting him on fire.

Sixteen-year-old Billy Joe Rasberry, who was ordered to stand trial as an adult following a certification hearing, was charged with the Class A felony of first-degree assault and the unclassified felony of armed criminal action by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour.

After considering the complaint and probable cause affidavit filed with the court, Associate Circuit Judge John Bloodworth issued a warrant for Rasberry's arrest and set his bond at $10,000.

Rasberry, a resident of the 700 block of Foley Street, had not been arrested by press time.

The complaint alleges on June 13 Rasberry "knowingly caused serious physical injury to Walter Lee Currie Jr. by throwing gasoline on him and lighting him on fire with a lighter" and did so "by, with and through the use, assistance and aid of a dangerous instrument."

During the investigation by the Poplar Bluff Police Department, officers took written and verbal statements from Walter, other witnesses and Rasberry after he was told of his rights.

Officers, according to Detective David Sutton's probable cause affidavit, learned on June 13, Billy Rasberry and Jamie Rasberry left their Foley Street residence on foot.

"Billy Rasberry carried a Gatorade bottle filled with gasoline, a lighter and a pair of scissors from the residence," Sutton said.

The Rasberrys walked to JD's Quickstop at the intersection of Main and Davis, Sutton said.

"As they left, Billy Rasberry and Jamie Rasberry were confronted by Walter Currie Jr. and four other juvenile males," Sutton said. "Walter Currie Jr. confronted Jamie Rasberry about a rumor he had heard."

Billy Rasberry, Sutton said, told Walter he had a bottle of gasoline and a lighter.

"Water Currie Jr. continued his conversation with Jamie Rasberry," said Sutton. "Billy Rasberry threw gasoline from the Gatorade bottle onto Walter Currie Jr. and ignited the gasoline with the lighter."

The 15-year-old reportedly suffered second- and third-degree burns on his stomach, chest, face, neck and arms.

After being treated locally, Walter was taken to St. John's Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, where he was hospitalized for nine days. His treatment reportedly is ongoing.

According to earlier reports, there had been an earlier incident, a third-degree assault, which had occurred several days prior involving the teens, as well as what officers described as "some incidents" at school.

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