Neftali (Pete) Valentin stood before Magisterial District Judge Harry Farmer on Feb. 14 to face charges that he set fire to his Market Street apartment while his two daughters were in the building with him.

"I love my children very much, and I'm sorry," Valentin said. "I'm so sorry."

That was Valenin's only statement at the proceedings, where he sat alone, dressed in a blue print hospital smock with gauze and bandages on most of his left arm and on his right arm from the elbow up.

Valentin has been under treatment for burns at the Crozer Chester Medical Center since the night of Jan. 28, when his apartment in the 400 block of Market Street in Oxford went up in flames.

Valentin is alleged to have started the fire in the downstairs apartment following an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Tonya Wood.

According to the report of Oxford Sgt. Thomas McFadden in the affidavit of probable cause, Wood left the home, taking her 2-year-old son, after Valentin came home drunk.

Valentin's two older daughters, Amber and Cheyenne, ages 7 and 8, remained at the residence with their father.

According to the affidavit, at around 7:49 p.m., upstairs neighbor Eric Sumner was awakened by the smell of smoke and heard children screaming on the lower floor.

He went downstairs and found the door locked with the children inside the burning apartment, but was able to kick in the lower portion of the door, letting them escape the blaze.

Sumner told police that Valentin dove through the front window and was on the ground, where he kept repeating that he was sorry for what he had done.

Sumner said Valentin then went out into the street, and when an emergency vehicle was coming down the street, he ran toward the truck, yelling that he did not want them to go into the house, and continued running, striking the truck with his head and face.

Valentin and both girls were flown by helicopter to the Crozer Chester Medical Center Burn Unit, where all three were initially listed in critical condition.

Once Valentin's status was upgraded Feb. 5, McFadden spoke with him at the hospital.

According to the affidavit, Valentin admitted to dumping gasoline around the middle of the room of the apartment and lighting it.

"He said he had the gas can out back and that he brought it upstairs when he came home that day. He said he did it because he didn't want to live anymore and that he really loved Tonya. Tonya was his ex-fiancee and his live-in girlfriend. He said they were arguing and she had left with her baby boy right after the argument."

Valentin listed silently while Farmer read the charges and the affidavit of probable cause. He was charged with two counts of attempted criminal homicide, two counts aggravated assault, two counts simple assault, seven counts of recklessly endangering another person, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief and arson.

Valentin was remanded to Chester County Prison with bail set at $300,000. Farmer also ordered that he have no contact with any of the victims, and that he undergo a mental evaluation.

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