HAVERHILL — Kevin McCarthy, the owner of two vacant houses that were set on fire within minutes of each other last week, was the victim of a choking attack several hours before the first blaze, police said.
Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal's Office, told The Eagle-Tribune yesterday that the fires that destroyed a single-family dwelling at 49 Greenville St. and did $30,000 worth of damage to a three-story apartment house at 18 Warren St. were "intentionally set."
The Greenville Street fire was reported at 11:58 p.m. Oct. 17, while the blaze on Warren Street was called in at 12:12 a.m. the next day.
Police interviewed McCarthy — standard operating procedure in any fire investigation, police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said — but no charges have been filed against anyone.
Kai Kunz, 36, of 111 Church St., Northbridge, pleaded not guilty to assault with intent to murder in Haverhill District Court yesterday. Judge Stephen Abany scheduled a probable cause hearing for Nov. 16 and set bail at $250, which Kunz posted by 1 p.m.
Kunz called the allegation "a total fraud" during his arraignment. McCarthy told police that Kunz, whom he knows from real estate dealings, went to his home at 164 Golden Hill Ave. on Oct. 17 at around 9:30 a.m., knocked him to the floor, grabbed him by the throat and said, "My life is over and so is yours," according to a report filed by Detective Joseph Benedetti.
Kunz was angry because he believed McCarthy had gone to the Northbridge police about a hit list Kunz had drawn up that included the name of an officer in that department, according to Benedetti's report.
Joseph Young, a friend of McCarthy's, pulled Kunz, who is well over 6 feet tall and muscular, off McCarthy, police said.
Before the alleged choking attack, Kunz took several items from his pocket, including the hit list, and put them on a table, police said. McCarthy then grabbed the hit list and Kunz attacked him, police said.
McCarthy told police he brought the list to Northbridge police that night and that department confirmed his statement, according to the Haverhill police report.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Flynn requested $3,500 cash bail. Attorney Christian Colwell, who represented Kunz during the arraignment, challenged McCarthy's credibility, calling him "extremely well-known to this court."
His client, he said, "adamantly" denies the allegation.
"It just didn't happen," Colwell said.
The attorney also said Kunz is a University of Massachusetts graduate and is pursuing a doctorate.
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