Judge throws out attempted murder charge in arson case

A Johnson County judge on Friday dismissed the attempted murder charge filed against an Olathe man after a February house fire he is accused of starting.

Prosecutors had said William J. Outhet Jr. set the fire and “staged” firearms inside the residence and fired shots as police and firefighters converged on the scene.

But after a preliminary hearing Friday afternoon, District Judge Brenda Cameron said the state had not presented evidence to show that Outhet had fired shots at anyone. She did order him to stand trial on a charge of arson for allegedly setting the fire Feb. 1 at his residence in the 1400 block of Martway Drive.

Outhet, 58, was rescued from the house by firefighters who found him unconscious with a shotgun across his chest, according to Friday’s testimony. The first Olathe police officers on the scene said they heard several loud “booms” coming from inside the residence.

Investigators later saw several holes in a window and wall of the bedroom where Outhet was found unconscious. Firearms and ammunition were discovered in rooms throughout the house, investigators testified.

A neighbor of Outhet testified about a conversation several years ago in which he angrily told her he “hated everybody who worked for government.” The woman, who formerly worked for the Olathe Fire Department, said he added that he hated the fire trucks that pulled up in front of her house.

Fire investigators determined that the fire had started in the home’s garage and in their opinion it was set intentionally, according to Friday’s testimony.

After Cameron found probable cause to try Outhet on the arson charge, defense attorney Carol Cline entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Cameron denied a request to lower his bond, and Outhet will remain in jail pending his trial, scheduled for July 15.