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Suspect in assault released allegedly commits arson in Washtenaw County

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 18:17:52-05

(WXYZ) — In Washtenaw County, Dave Andrew Clair is being held in custody, pending release to a mental health facility. At the same time, the prosecutor is explaining why he was previously let out, after an alleged assault.

At 27-years-old, Clair is no stranger to trouble with the law.

Ann Arbor Police say he beat a waitress repeatedly over the head with a glass bottle at Fleetwood Diner after she simply asked him to wear a face mask.

“They come in here and accost us. There’s been plenty of times people have been hurt here.” says waitress Anna Love.

Love was stunned to learn that Clair was released on personal bond soon after, and just last Sunday night allegedly assaulted a neighbor and set fire to Miller Manor Apartments. The alleged arson caused more than 100 tenants to evacuate.

She says “It’s really unfortunate, for him and the community.”

Newly elected Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit says he eliminated the practice of requesting cash bond to make court proceedings more fair and equitable.

To the victims in these two cases, he adds “I’m really sorry you were harmed and we strive to keep you safe.”

Investigators say not only did Clair admit to setting the fire but also acknowledged suffering from mental health issues after damaging a police cruiser.

Records show he has a history of auto theft dating back years.

In court this week, he also asked not to be released from custody. Savit says he’s now being held, pending release to an inpatient mental health treatment center.

“To the extent any of us missed warning signs, we’ll go back and make sure we do better in the future,” says Savit.

The new prosecutor insists he still supports denial of bond in cases of extreme violence, and danger to the public.

“There are details we don’t know contained in those first police reports & that first arraignment.” says former prosecutor and defense attorney Pamela Johnson.

She points out the jail population, which is now at risk due to COVID-19, a defendant’s prior criminal history and mental state are all crucial considerations in determining bond.

“At that time of the first arraignment, the courts and lawyers work with the best and most accurate information they have, in deciding what is an appropriate bond,” says Johnson.

We’re going to keep close watch on Clair’s case, to make sure both he and the public are protected.