GIST: "The man facing a retrial on charges of setting a fire that killed two teenagers 32 years ago screamed at the prosecution's key witness Thursday as witness described the confession he said the defendant made to him. "Stop (expletive) lying," Richard Wright shouted at Martin "Danny" Williams III as Williams described the conversation he claimed they had as they were getting high smoking crack cocaine in Wright's Lansingburgh home. Williams appeared unfazed by the outburst. State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Ceresia reprimanded Wright, who spent much of the rest of the day staring at Williams. Williams' recollection of the conversation is crucial to Special Prosecutor Jasper Mills' effort to convict Wright of four counts of second-degree murder and a count of first-degree arson in the Sept. 1, 1986, fire at 17 108th St. that killed Tara Gilbert, 14, and Meredith Pipino, 13. Williams, 52, said Wright confessed to setting the fire when the two men smoked crack about three weeks after the fire. "I didn't want to do it. They weren't supposed to be home," Williams said Wright told him as they  got high in his bedroom at 489 Fifth Ave. "I lit it. I threw it. And I ran," Wright allegedly told him.  Williams said he promised Wright he would tell no one. But that promise evaporated when Williams was arrested on burglary charges in Cohoes on Jan. 20, 1987. Williams talked to investigators and Wright was arrested the next day. "I was looking for a deal. No one offered me immunity," said Williams, who stated several times he wanted to straighten out his life when he was arrested. A jury convicted Wright of the four murder and single arson counts the following year but Ceresia threw out Wright's conviction and sentence of 25-years to life in October. His decision was based on motions by defense attorney Michael P. McDermott that argued developments in scientific technology exposed the methods used by the original arson investigators as being unable to prove that an accelerant was used in the fire. No traces of an accelerant were found. At the original trial, Williams testified that Wright admitted he set the fire. At the time, Williams faced 28 burglary charges that were later reduced to a trespassing case in exchange for his testimony. Mills attempted to protect Williams from defense attacks that he was testifying in return for a deal on the burglary charges.  Williams testified that he had served a year on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge that was to satisfy the Troy burglaries before he testified against Wright in 1988. During cross examination, McDermott attacked Williams' testimony, pointing out contradictions between what he said Thursday and statements he made to police and to a Rensselaer County grand jury in January 1987. McDermott noted that Williams avoided prosecution on 28 burglary charges that each carried up to 15 years in prison - when he made a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify at the original trial. During nearly three hours of questioning, McDermott hammered away at Williams repeatedly referencing his statement to Troy police in 1987; reading portions of his grand jury testimony; and also reading parts of his testimony during the 1988 trial in which Wright was convicted. When pressed about discrepancies in his recollection, Williams said he could not remember everything he said to authorities three decades ag0. "I (overdosed) in 1992. I don't remember a lot of things," Williams said. McDermott also went after Williams accusing him of lying.  The defense attorney questioned why Williams told police initially that Wright set 17 108th St. on fire to get rid of Donald Gilbert at the behest of Puerto Rican drug dealers they had stolen money and drugs from and then changed the story to say Wright was getting back at Gilbert for stealing tapes from him.  McDermott also questioned why he told police recently that the now-deceased James Ohler had given him a bottle filled with gasoline. Rather than take his chance with another jury, Wright opted for a bench trial. Ceresia will determine whether he is guilty of murder and arson charges. Williams said he didn't want to return from Colorado to testify at the retrial. "I had put this all behind me. I didn't want to go through living this all over again," Williams said. Williams' testimony was the second notable development in the case Thursday morning. Earlier in the day, Ceresia visited  the fire scene in Lansingburgh to see the layout of the apartment. Ceresia and court officials were escorted to the fire scene by court officers. Wright, 50, was brought to 108th Street by the sheriff’s office but declined to go inside.  McDermott and special prosecutor Jasper Mills, were among the group of people who accompanied the judge. Ceresia climbed the staircase to the second floor to see where Gilbert and Pipino died. The  blaze had consumed the rear of the building. Mills wanted the judge to see how small the apartment is. Wright was serving a 25-years-to-life prison sentence when his conviction was vacated."

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