Wall Street Journal

Upd. June 14, 2016 7:44 p.m


Brooklyn Man Gets 19 Years in Prison for Mattress Fire That Killed a Police Officer

Marcell Dockery, 18, was convicted last month of murder, arson and assault in connection with a fire that led to the death of Officer Dennis Guerra

By THOMAS MACMILLAN

An 18-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for setting fire to a mattress in a Coney Island high-rise, killing a police officer who responded to the blaze.

Marcell Dockery was convicted last month of murder, arson and assault for a fire he set on April 6, 2014, in the 13th-floor hallway of an apartment building on Surf Avenue.

Police Officers Dennis Guerra and Rosa Rodriguez were overwhelmed by smoke when they responded to the fire. Mr. Guerra, 38, died from his injuries three days later. Ms. Rodriguez suffered permanent injuries.

Mr. Dockery initially confessed to the crime, telling investigators he lighted a mattress on fire because he was bored, a law-enforcement official said. He tried to put out the blaze, then knocked on doors telling people to leave the building, the official said.

He pleaded not guilty and testified at trial in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn that his confession was coerced. On Tuesday, his lawyer, Jesse Young, continued to argue that his client was innocent and said he plans to file an appeal.