Man accused of igniting apartment building fire

Joshua Strickler

A Grand Junction man convicted for attempted murder and arson for intentionally setting his apartment complex on fire will get a few months knocked off his sentence under a Colorado of Appeal ruling.

Joshua Strickler, 37, was sentenced to more than 52 years in prison for attempted first-degree extreme indifference murder, attempted first-degree arson and attempted criminal mischief.

While the appellate court upheld the first two convictions, it remanded the case to merge the criminal mischief conviction in with the arson charge.

In so doing, the court sets a legal president proclaiming that the use of fire now meets the legal definition of a deadly weapon.

“Strickler contends that our Supreme Court has declared that ‘only a discrete list of objects can be deadly weapons.’ Thus, he argues, because fire is not an ‘object,’ it does not fall within the statutory definition of ‘deadly weapon,’” Judge Matthew Grove wrote in the opinion, which was joined by Judges Anthony Navarro and Neeti Pawar.

“Fire falls within the scope of this definition of ‘weapon.’ It has been used in war for millennia,” Grove wrote. “It can be used to destroy, defeat or physically injure others. Because there was ample evidence presented to support a finding that Strickler’s use of fire rendered it capable of producing death or serious bodily injury, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction for the crime of violence sentence enhancer.”

Initially, Strickler was also charged with first-degree attempted murder of a woman who also lived in the Lone Rose Apartments in the 500 block of Colorado Avenue, but was acquitted on that charge during his 2018 trial.

When firefighters came to the apartment complex in June 2017, they found that a gas stove top was lit and had burnt clothes piled on top, the ruling says. Behind it, they also found a portable grill that had been lit and placed under the gas line.

Stickler was convicted for attempted murder not of the woman specifically, but for everyone who also lived in the complex.

Stickler’s first parole hearing is scheduled for August 2041.