A Kearney man charged with trying to set his own house on fire with his roommates sleeping inside has gotten a new attorney, and delayed his final plea hearing until next month.
Brad Gladwell, 45, appeared in Buffalo County Court Monday morning on one count of first-degree attempted arson.
Gladwell was arrested in January after he allegedly doused his home — at 18 east 29th St. — with gasoline, and tried to set it on fire — all while his two roommates slept inside.
"He took gas and poured it all over the upstairs. It's real bad," Gladwell's now former roommate, Tiffany Harris, said. "I guess he poured it everywhere up there, they [authorities] said."
In the early morning hours of Jan. 15, Harris says she and her roommate, Dan Santistevan, were awakened by the strong smell of gasoline in the house they lived in with homeowner Gladwell.
"I couldn't figure out what the smell was at first, because I didn't think at all that it would be gasoline, and at 3:30 in the morning" Harris said, "but after I smelled it for a while, I woke Danny up and said, 'Danny, what is that smell?' and he jumped up and he said, 'It smells like gas,' and he started messing with the stove and I was like, 'It's not propane. It smells like gasoline or kerosene."
Harris called police, and according to court records, Gladwell admitted to trying to start the fire because he was "Upset with his life, and wanted it to end," but that he ultimately decided not to go through with it, because it wasn't the right thing to do.
When asked if she thought Gladwell was trying to kill her, Harris said, "Yea, I do. I really do."
Gladwell was arrested and initially charged with two counts of attempted first–degree murder, and one count of attempted first–degree arson, and his roommates — who Gladwell invited into his home when they had nowhere else to go — say they never saw this coming.
"He was nice," Harris said. "He said he would help me out and stuff."
But, they say, his behavior suddenly took a very strange turn.
"At the time, I was kind of shocked and kind of scared, you know," Harris said. "I hope they don't let him back out to do anything else to me before I can get out of here. I want to get out of this house and away from him, for sure."
Gladwell pleaded not guilty to the attempted arson charge last month. The attempted murder charges have since been dropped.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
A call to Gladwell's new attorney, Daniel Stockman, of Omaha, wasn't immediately returned.
Gladwell will make his final plea on May 10.