DEXTER, MO (KFVS) - A man accused of plotting with two others to kill his wife pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Donald Lafferty, 69, of Quechee, Vermont is accused of attempted murder first degree, arson first degree, armed criminal action, and financial exploitation of elderly person ($50,000 or more).
A total of three people face attempted murder charges in connection with the 2013 arson fire near Bloomfield.
According to Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell D. Oliver, Lafferty was arrested on May 12 just before 11:30 p.m. in North Andover, Massachusetts by the Massachusetts State Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit.
Donald Lafferty made his first court appearance on May 19 at the Stoddard County Justice Center in front of Judge Joe Satterfield. Lafferty waived formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty.
Lafferty's son and daughter were in court and took the stand for questioning. Lafferty's daughter Karen said that Donald Lafferty had been living in her condo in Vermont since October of 2013. Karen said that Donald Lafferty arrived at her home in North Andover, Massachusetts a couple hours before he was arrested. Karen said she was horrified when she found out that her dad was wanted for attempted murder. Karen said that Donald felt sick that day before he was arrested but was planning on turning him in the next morning.
At one point, Judge Satterfield called out Donald Lafferty for motioning his head toward his daughter Karen while she was on the stand. Donald Lafferty said, "Sorry, I didn't know I was doing it."
Karen said that she and Donald talked about how they believed that Donald's wife Mildred may have set the fire and that her behavior on the night of the fire was unusual. Karen also said she was relieved when finding out that Christopher and Brandi Hicks were arrested in connection with the fire.
Jeffrey Lafferty, Donald's son, took the stand and said he was relieved to see an article that the Hicks have been arrested, thinking this may be the conclusion to this event.
Jeffrey also said that Donald visited him days before he was arrested. Jeffrey said that Donald had several weird calls he had received prior to finding out that Christopher and Brandi Hicks had been arrested. Jeffrey claimed that Donald had helped the Hicks out using church donations.
On June 3, Lafferty's bond was set at $750,000 cash only with special conditions.
A preliminary court date is set for June 19 at 2 p.m. at the Stoddard County Justice Center.
Authorities brought Lafferty back to Bloomfield on May 19.
A search warrant had been issued for Lafferty's home on May 12, but he didn't appear to be there at the time of the search.
Oliver says the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney's Office located Lafferty in a suburb north of Boston.
That's when the Fugitive Apprehension Unit went to the area and took Lafferty into custody without incident.
A person in the home where Lafferty was found told Massachusetts State Police that they knew about the warrants for Lafferty's arrest because of reports from online news outlets.
Lafferty is also charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. According to the probable cause statement, he is accused of defrauding his mother of around $86,000.
Christopher and Brandi Hicks
Two others face charges in connection with the crime.
Brandi Lee Hicks, 33, of Dexter, was arrested on a warrant for attempted murder, armed criminal action and first-degree arson.
Christopher David Hicks, 34, of Dexter, was also arrested on a warrant for attempted murder, armed criminal action and first-degree arson.
The couple's bond was set at $750,000 each. They were booked into the Stoddard County Jail.
Both Brandi and Christopher Hicks appeared in court on May 15. Each asked for and were granted a public defender.
Christopher and Brandi Hicks are both due in court for an arraignment on Thursday, May 15 at 9 a.m. at the Stoddard County Justice Center in Bloomfield, Mo. in front of Judge Joe Satterfield.
According to the probable cause statement, Lafferty, Brandi Hicks, and Christopher Hicks are accused of planning the arson fire. Lafferty is accused of making a deal with Brandi Hicks and Christopher Hicks to pay them depending on the outcome of the fire.
Brandi Hicks admitted to investigators that she saw Chris Hicks pouring gasoline in the home while Lafferty's wife was asleep and setting it on fire, according to the probable cause statement.
The woman woke up from the heat of the flames and tried to put out the fire, but the flames continued to burn. She then called 911.
Also according to court documents, Donald Lafferty was having a relationship with Brandy Hicks.
Brandi's husband, Christopher, was also in on the crime because, police say he would have gotten money if the plan would have worked.
Christopher and Brandi Hicks are both due back in court on June 5 at 9 a.m.
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