Man guilty of burning ex-girlfriend

Man guilty of burning ex-girlfriend
Brooklyn resident Khenan Clarke has been convicted of attempted murder for burning his ex-girlfriend and her apartment in Queensbridge Houses. The woman and her sons were rescued by firefighters on the scene. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Rebecca Henely

A Brooklyn man who splashed gasoline on his ex-girlfriend and a Queensbridge Houses building, then set them both on fire was convicted of attempted murder and arson last Thursday, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Khenan Clarke, 26, who lives on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, was on trial in Queens Supreme Court for an incident that took place November 2009, the DA said. Clarke came to his then-22-year-old ex-girlfriend’s Queensbridge apartment, on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, demanding to be allowed in to see their 4-year-old son, the DA said.

The woman, who was then three months pregnant, was inside the apartment with the 4-year-old boy and another 2-year-old boy she had by another man, the DA said.

After he was refused entry, Clarke left but came back within the hour with a can of gasoline and began pouring gas under the apartment door, the DA said. The woman implored Clarke to stop for the sake of the boys, but Clarke instead splashed the door of the apartment with gas and told the woman she and her children were going to die, the DA said.

Clarke lit the gasoline, which burned both the building and the woman, who ran to a neighbor’s apartment as Clarke pursued her and continued to pour gas on her body, the DA said. The children remained trapped inside the apartment door, but the woman’s neighbor doused the flames and fended off Clarke with a knife, the DA said.

Police and the Fire Department were alerted to the incident after calls about a fire came in around 11 a.m. that day, authorities said.

Firefighters on the scene found the woman on the building’s roof with third-degree burns to her legs, the DA said. They also retrieved her sons, who had to be treated for smoke inhalation, from her apartment, the DA said. Clarke had been taken to Harlem Medical Center for burns on his hands and legs, police said.

“The defendant stands convicted of a truly heinous crime: deliberately setting fire to an occupied apartment house without regard to the life and safety of the dozens of people who may have been inside or around the building, or the firefighters charged with fighting the blaze,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Following an eight-day trial, a jury found Clarke guilty of arson, three counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault and burglary, the DA said.

Clarke’s sentencing was set by Queens Supreme Court Judge Michael Aloise for May 17 and Clarke faces 25 years to life in prison, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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