Dayton man pleas not guilty in arson death of mother, injury to brother

Dayton man pleas not guilty in arson death of mother, injury to brother

DAYTON — UPDATE @ 11:43 a.m. (March 6):

The 23-year-old Dayton man accused of lighting the home his mother and brother were staying in on fire, ultimately leading to his mother’s death, has pleaded not guilty to charges.

James Dennis, 23, was charged with two counts of murder and three counts of aggravated arson.

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Dennis’ bond was set at $1 million and his next court date is March 14, officials said.

UPDATE @ 2:42 p.m. (March 2)

James Dennis, 23, of Dayton, has been formally charged in connection to a fatal arson that killed his relative.

Dennis is indicted for:

  • two counts murder;
  • two counts aggravated arson (harm to person); and
  • one count aggravated arson (occupied structure).

Dennis shared a house on South Terry Street with his mother and brother. When fire crews arrived Feb. 22, James Dennis was outside the house, while his brother Jonathan Dennis was trapped on the roof and his mother Julie Dennis was trapped inside, according to a media release.

Julie Dennis died Feb. 28 from her injuries.

James Dennis remains in Montgomery County Jail on $500,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned March 6.


The mother of a suspect accused of setting a South Terry Street home on fire on Feb. 22 has died from her injuries sustained in the fire.

Julie Dennis, 50, of Dayton, was pronounced dead on Feb. 28 at 11:45 a.m. and her death has been ruled a homicide, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Her son, James Dennis, 23, was arrested after he was accused of setting the fire intentionally.  He’s currently in jail on aggravated arson and arson charges.  We’re working to learn if he will be facing any additional charges in connection to Julie Dennis’ death.

Jonathan Dennis also was injured in the fire and is no longer listed as a patient at the hospital.

According to court records, James Dennis was accused of using a lighter to set a couch on fire, knowing that his mother, Julie, and brother, Jonathan, were still inside.