Arsonist pleads guilty to four felony charges

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – "It was my fault," said Jose Ramirez, who pled guilty Tuesday, to setting a Hanover hotel on fire twice in the same week.  For the first time we heard from the confessed arsonist, who now faces the possibility of life in prison.

Ramirez stood in court Tuesday afternoon and confessed.  He did that while apologizing to his former boss, the manager of the Super 8 motel, he set ablaze.  Based on conversations with his defense attorney, it seems at the heart of all this may have been a broken heart.

According to courtroom testimony, in the weeks before December 11th, Jose Ramirez tried to commit suicide twice and was in extreme emotional upheaval.  He was so distressed and out of sorts he actually gave us his home video of the fire he started.

We're told the first fire originated in room 2094. We learned Tuesday that was where Ramirez and his girlfriend lived.  She, however, recently moved out and the two had issues.  His defense attorney said that night Ramirez had been drinking heavily and was probably just trying to erase memories of his past love.

There's no indication if the same motive applies to the other fire, which investigators said they watched him light.

Speaking through an interpreter, Ramirez apologized to his former boss.  He said: "It was my fault.  I feel very bad for everything that happened.  I am very sorry."

Fire Chief Willie Jones doesn't think that remorse should influence the judge's sentence.

"Fire is nothing to play with," he said.  "It's something you can't control and as quickly as it spread in that building.  I mean, I'm sorry for him but things that we do in life we have to pay our time for."

Before that happens, the judge wants to verify Ramirez, who is from Mexico, is who he says he is. Over the next two months authorities will examine his immigration status.  They do not believe Ramirez has a social security number, green card or work visa.  He also has no prior record.

The fire caused $2 million in damage.  Sentencing is scheduled for September 19th.

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