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Jury says Forest Grove man guilty of arson, burglary, but not attempted murder

HENRY GULACYA Washington County jury on Friday acquitted an 18-year-old Forest Grove man of attempted aggravated murder, but found him guilty of arson and burglary.

Henry Louis Gulacy faced 13 counts of attempted aggravated murder, one count of first-degree arson, one count of second-degree arson, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary. The jury in his case began deliberating at about 10:30 a.m. May 27, and returned its verdicts several hours later.

The jury convicted Gulacy on all the arson and burglary charges, but found him not guilty of all the attempted aggravated murder charges.

Gulacy will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. June 8 by Judge Eric Butterfield.

Gulacy was charged with setting fire to a house belonging to Marcus and Roberta Roberts, Gulacy’s next-door neighbors, at 2045 Hawthorne St. in Forest Grove, on Aug 28, 2015. The Roberts family — Marcus and Roberta and their three young children — survived the blaze.

Gulacy has also been charged with the arson of a building on Ninth Avenue in Forest Grove Sept. 17.

Deputy District Attorney Rayney Meisel told jurors during closing arguments that they should focus deliberation on two questions: whether Gulacy lit the fire purposefully, and if he knew the family was inside at the time. If the jury answered yes to both questions, Meisel said, then the crime constituted “the bottom of the depravity of humanity, the unfathomable.”

Meisel told jurors that Gulacy was “lovingly tending and coaxing his pet fire,” that began in the basement of the Roberts home. She also said the Roberts house was so obviously inhabited that it would be impossible for Gulacy to “do anything other than conclude the house was occupied.”

“Mr. Gulacy was not a stranger to the Roberts,” Meisel told the jury. “He’d lived next door to them for 12 years.”

Meisel said she was thankful “the stars that lined up” to save the Roberts family, and asked the jury to “hold Gulacy accountable, and find him guilty.”

Defense attorney William Redden told jurors the prosecution had offered “possibilities,” but little evidence. The district attorney's office, he said, emphasized the possible, “but possibility is not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“You are finders of facts,” he told the jury, and suggested that the prosecution had offered much speculation but few facts.

Gulacy, Redden said, did not know the house was occupied, and therefore could not be found guilty of the 13 counts of attempted aggravated murder. The defense did not, however, challenge the single counts of arson or burglary.

“We’re not arguing those counts right now,” Redden told the jury, but instead attempting to point out that the jury hadn’t “heard evidence for the first 13 counts” of attempted aggravated murder. The defense also pointed out that there seemed to be no motive for the attempted murder.

Meisel didn’t deny the lack of obvious motive, but asked, “What on earth would be a reason for something like this? There is no reason for the demons inside Henry Gulacy.”