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Retrial continues for man accused in fatal 1986 Lansingburgh arson

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - The trial continues for a man accused of setting a 1986 fire in Lansingburgh that killed two teenaged girls.

Meredith Pipino and Tara Gilbert were killed in the 1986 fire. Richard Wright was convicted of the crime after his first trial. That conviction was recently vacated, and now, he’s on trial again.

The prosecution called their star witness to testify on Thursday. Martin Williams recounted the story in which he said Wright confessed to setting the fire.

“There’s certain things that leave an impression on your psyche,” Williams said on the stand. “And that’s something I didn’t forget.”

He said Wright told him: “I lit it. I threw it. And I ran.”

Williams’s story prompted an outburst from Wright, who yelled, “Stop [expletive] lying!”

Judge Andrew Ceresia is presiding over the bench trial and reminded Wright to keep his composure.

Under cross examination, the defense probed Williams with questions about his drug habits, statements that didn’t match up, and the circumstances surrounding a plea deal that required him to testify in Wright’s original trial in 1988.

The retrial opened up old wounds for the families of Pipino and Gilbert. Pipino’s brother said his family thought they had closure for decades saying, “All I know is God knows the truth. And ultimately, the guilty party will face his justice.”

Williams traveled from Colorado where he now lives to testify. He said he wants to put it all behind him.


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