Karaoke and kerosene case headed toward mediation

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COEUR d’ALENE — Attorneys will mediate the case of a Rathdrum man accused of dumping kerosene on his girlfriend and lighting her on fire after a Valentine’s Day argument over karaoke at a local bar.

Dustin R. Hieronymus, 38, who is charged with aggravated battery, third-degree arson and felony domestic battery, was in a Coeur d’Alene courtroom Tuesday when prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to seek a resolution in the case.

First District Senior Judge Fred Gibler said mediation should be completed by June. A status conference will be set for July.

Zachary Jones, Hieronymus’ defense attorney, filed two motions. One is a motion to dismiss the case, alleging police did not have a warrant when they stopped and arrested Hieronymus. The other is a motion to suppress evidence.

Neither of the motions was heard Tuesday.

Hieronymus is accused of dumping kerosene on his 27-year-old girlfriend after the couple returned home from a Valentine’s Day outing at the Main Street Bar in Rathdrum.

The woman wanted to keep singing karaoke, but Hieronymus wanted to leave the bar, according to a report. The couple argued. They went home around 7 p.m. and continued to argue at the residence they shared in the 14000 block of North Idaho Road.

During the argument, Hieronymus allegedly covered his girlfriend’s head with a bucket before striking the bucket several times, bruising her head. Then Hieronymus allegedly doused her head and upper body with kerosene and lit the flammable liquid on fire.

The woman suffered cuts and burns to her arms and face, and her hair was burned. Hieronymus had a bruise and cut above his left eye that he said was the result of being struck with a frying pan. He also suffered burns from trying to put the fire out.

Jones voiced concerns Tuesday about the victim’s “character and her credibility as a witness.” Hieronymus told police that his girlfriend set herself on fire because she was emotional and suicidal.

“According to Hieronymus, [the victim] and him continued to argue, and she suddenly set herself on fire,” according to a police report.

Mediation will determine if a June 16 jury trial, which was vacated, will be reset later. Aggravated battery carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Felony domestic battery can carry a penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Third-degree arson carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Hieronymus went to prison two years ago for aggravated assault. He served less than a year behind bars before he was placed on probation. He was on probation when the latest charge against him was filed.

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