Sept. 27--DURHAM -- Gregory Potter, a former on-call firefighter from Peterborough accused of setting a series of fires in Durham in February, received a significant bail reduction during an appearance Thursday morning in Dover Circuit Court.
Judge Stephen Morrison agreed Thursday to adjust the terms of bail for Potter, which had been set at $100,000 cash or surety. Now, bail is set at $5,000 cash with conditions. Those include:
-- Potter must abide by a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
-- He may be required to wear a GPS tracking device to ensure his compliance with that curfew.
-- He is banned from the Town of Durham.
-- He lives at his parents' home in Jaffrey.
Also during Thursday morning's court appearance, Potter waived his right to a probable cause hearing.
Potter, 22, has been charged with five counts of arson stemming from his actions on the morning of Feb. 2, during which he set fires which Durham police say nearly killed three people. He is also charged with two counts of criminal mischief and one count of falsifying physical evidence.
According to an affidavit, the Durham Fire Department responded to 15 Main St. for a mattress fire at a single-family home on the property. Investigators discovered a 2008 Subaru parked in a back parking lot near the address. The car was red, had emergency lights and a Peterborough, N.H., Fire Department sticker on the back window. The vehicle was registered to Potter, who police say was involved in a previous incident at the address in September 2012.
Durham Police Department Deputy Chief Rene Kelley said residents at 4 Smith Park Lane awoke to the sound of a fire at approximately 3:30 a.m. Heavy smoke filled the air in the apartment they rented. Outside, their Ford Explorer, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Maxima were damaged.
According to Kelley, the four other buildings Potter set on fire were multiunit apartment structures on Main Street. All of the apartments were rented by students at the University of New Hampshire with the exception of the residents of 4 Smith Park Lane.
The affidavit states Potter was interviewed by police at about 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 2. During that interview, Potter said he came to Durham with a friend and was at a party at a UNH-operated apartment complex before leaving to go to bed between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Police determined Potter was only at the party for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Reports of other fires came in over the next few days. In one case, two people said they were walking toward 19 Main St. and saw "a male crouched near the deck igniting something."
Investigators later reviewed security camera footage from Irving on 2 Dover Road, which showed Potter purchasing a lighter. Investigators also recovered six images of the fire at Smith Park Lane deleted from Potter's phone which showed he had taken the pictures near the area of the fires.
Potter was arrested in Jaffrey on Sept. 16
Staff Writer Kimberley Haas contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 - Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.