Gay rights activist accused of setting own home on fire

Michigan police say a transgender, gay rights activist tried to fabricate a hate crime by setting his home on fire.

Nikki Joly's attorney, Daniel Barnett, says the evidence is circumstantial. The 54-year-old Joly was charged last year with first-degree arson in the August 2017 fire that killed five pets. The Detroit News reports that a hearing is scheduled for March 8.

MLive.com obtained the arson investigation report that says gas station surveillance video shows Joly buying gasoline the day of the fire and traces of gasoline was found on his clothes. The report says phone records and witness statements show Joly was home around the time the fire was set.

Chicago police last week charged the black and gay actor Jussie Smollett with disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a racist and homophobic attack.

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