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Brett Michael Dulaney

Brett Dulaney

WAYNESBURG – Greene County Judge Lou Dayich admonished Brett Dulaney that he would have the opportunity to talk with his girlfriend later just before the Franklin Township man pleaded guilty in court to assaulting her and risking a catastrophe after their mobile home burned down last year.

“Catch up some other time, buddy,” Dayich said as Dulaney approached the stand Wednesday following a lengthy hug and loving exchange with Billie Jo Hodgson.

Dulaney, 35, was sentenced to 11½ to 23 ½ months in Greene County jail and three years of probation, along with 11 hours of community service and a $200 fine.

Dulaney was arrested Nov. 2 after state police said he started a fire that destroyed the home at 125 Valley Farm Drive in Franklin Township owned by his mother and that he shared with Hodgson. Dulaney has since been living with his mother in Burton, W.Va., while free on $50,000 bond.

The lead arson charge was dismissed by prosecutors as part of the plea agreement. Dulaney pleaded guilty to charges of risking a catastrophe, strangulation, simple assault and harassment.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Lock said Hodgson and Dulaney’s mother did not request restitution as part of the sentence.

As deputies led him away in handcuffs to begin serving his sentence, Hodgson began to cry harder and tell Dulaney how much she loves him. She refused to testify at Dulaney’s preliminary hearing in December.

Police charged Dulaney after he assaulted Hodgson and was accused of setting their mobile home on fire, destroying it.

Troopers responded to a domestic dispute and found Dulaney on the front porch while Hodgson was outside with scrapes on her arms, legs and face, and blood near her mouth. Police said Dulaney punched Hodgson, held a knife to her throat and choked her.

Hodgson said she was asleep on the couch when she was attacked. In her 911 call, Hodgson told dispatchers Dulaney “beat the crap out of me” and threatened to kill her. She also could be heard telling dispatchers he was “trying to burn the house down” by lighting the curtains on fire with a lit piece of cardboard.

Firefighters found two propane tanks in the bedroom and a lawnmower inside the trailer. Police said Dulaney was intoxicated at the scene and smelled like gasoline.

In an interview with investigators the day of the fire, Dulaney claimed Hodgson set the fire while he slept and “she left me in there to cook like a (expletive) turkey.” Dulaney also told police the couple had the “fight of the century” the night before after they smoked crack for four straight days. He also told investigators he had 12 different drugs in his system – “enough drugs to kill a (expletive) elephant” – when the fire occurred.

Dayich ordered Dulaney to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation within 15 days of his release from the Greene County jail. Dayich added the split sentence of both jail time and probation was intended to keep tabs on Dulaney.

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