Suspect in NY fire pleads not guilty

June 24, 2011 - 10:44 AM

NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) — An 18-year-old student has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder in a case that has brought unusual attention to a Hasidic Jewish enclave in New York.

Shaul Spitzer of New Square is accused of severely burning a neighbor, Aron Rottenberg, with gasoline on May 22. Rottenberg claims Spitzer was acting at the direction of the village's chief rabbi because Rottenberg had stopped praying at the rabbi's synagogue.

Spitzer was arraigned Friday in Rockland County Court on charges of attempted murder, attempted arson and assault. His lawyer entered not-guilty pleas to all charges. He said outside court that Spitzer did not intend to harm anyone or to burn down Rottenberg's house.

He also said the chief rabbi had no involvement.

Spitzer was allowed to remain free on $300,000 bail