CROWN POINT — A 57-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to intentionally setting a fire last year at his estranged wife's Hammond home while several people were inside, including the wife's four grandchildren.
Erwin Ausley, who was listed as homeless, admitted to arson, a level 4 felony, in connection with the fire April 28, 2020, at a home in the 5500 block of Claude Avenue.
If Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas accepts his plea agreement, Ausley would face a sentence of two to eight years in prison.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Infiniti Westberg and defense attorney Matthew LaTulip will argue the length of his sentence, the plea agreement states.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a felony stalking charge and refrain from filing a habitual offender enhancement against Ausley.
According to court records, Ausley's daughter-in-law told police she smelled smoke, gathered her children and ran out of the home.
She saw Ausley, who was wearing a white T-shirt, walking out of the backyard through an open gate, records state.
The woman's mother told police she had been married to Ausley for two years, but recently asked him to move out because of marital problems.
Police had responded to the home several times recently, and family members said Ausley had threatened to burn down the home, records allege.