Vermont Man Pleads Guilty to Arson, Robbery Charges After Deadly 2015 Fire

Burlington, Vt. - A former Berlin man pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington to arson and robbery charges after a deadly arson in Northfield in December 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont.

Officials say Howard Hoisington, 34, has been detained since he was arrested in December 2015, and pled guilty to arson with death resulting and conspiracy to commit robbery.

In the fall of 2015, Jonathan Zampieri, Howard Hoisington, Tammy Wilder, Kevin Atwood and Kim Hoisington committed a series of robberies of drug dealers in Washington County, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont.  Three of the robberies involved dousing someone with gasoline and threatening to light them on fire, officials say, the last robbery resulted in a fire that destroyed a building in Northfield and killed an innocent bystander, Brittany Burt.

According to court records, on December 14, 2015, Zampieri, Howard, Tammy Wilder, Kim Hoisington and Amanda Wilder drove to pick up Atwood in Montpelier. They all reportedly drove to Cumberland Farms in Northfield, where Zampieri filled two mason jars with gasoline.  They then drove to an apartment in Northfield, where they planned to buy crack cocaine, according to officials.

According to court documents, Zampieri, Howard and Atwood kicked in the door, and found Efren Serrano and his girlfriend, Brittany Burt, in the bedroom.  Officials say both were doused in gasoline and the men demanded drugs.  When Serrano didn't say anything, the men pulled out a lighter, which went off and cause the room to burst into flames.  Officials say Zampieri, Howard and Atwood got out, Serrano also escaped with life-threatening injuries, but survived. Brittany Burt could not escape, and died in the home.

Under federal law, the arson charge carries a potential life sentence, but the plea agreement caps Hoisington's sentence at 25 years in jail.  Hoisington's co-defendants Zampieri, Tammy Wilder, and Richard Hoisington, have all pleaded guilty to various charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont. Kimberly Hoisington's change of plea hearing is scheduled for next week.

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