Sault man not guilty of manslaughter in fatal rooming house fire

A gavel sits on a desk before the a meeting of the House Justice and Human Rights Committee in Ottawa, Wednesday February 13, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

A Sault Ste. Marie man charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal rooming house fire in 2019 has been found not guilty in court.

The fire happened in June 2019 at a residence in the 500 block of Cathcart Street. One resident, 65-year-old Bernard Agawa, died as a result of injuries suffered in the fire.

Sault Ste. Marie police charged 32-year-old Thomas Marttinen with manslaughter and arson endangering life.

In handing down a verdict of not guilty on both charges, the judge cited credibility issues with witnesses, who either had lengthy criminal records or suffered from some form of mental illness. One such witness could be considered a "reasonable alternate suspect," the judge said.

Following the verdict, the judge extended his condolences to the Agawa's family.