Police: Rochester man set fire that killed his grandmother while she babysat 4 grandchildren


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ROCHESTER, New York — A 22-year-old upstate New York man has been charged with starting a fire that killed his grandmother as she babysat four of her grandchildren.

Donkish Lesane of Rochester pleaded not guilty on Thursday to second-degree arson in connection with the Tuesday night fire in Rochester. He's being held in Monroe County Jail without bail.

Court documents allege that Lesane set the fire in a first-floor apartment and left with four young children who are his cousins. All four got out safely.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Green tells local media that the grandmother, Winnie Butler, likely was already dead at the time of the fire. Green says there also was what appeared to be blood on Lesane's clothing at the scene.

Authorities are awaiting results of an autopsy to determine how Butler died. Additional charges are possible.

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