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WFTV speaks to lawyer of man named person of interest in fatal Pine Hills fire

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ORLANDO, Fla. - WFTV spoke to the lawyer representing a man who is considered a person of interest in a deadly fire investigators believe was intentionally set.

Larunne Richardson, who called 911 when the fire broke out, is still in the hospital.

A woman and her two nephews were killed in the fire at the Misty Oaks apartment complex in Pine Hills last month.

Richardson was able to escape the fire and call 911, but has since been named a person of interest.

Richardson’s attorney, Carlus Haynes, said his client was attacked before the fire.

Haynes blasted the labeling of his client as a person of interest, and accused the Sheriff’s office of trying to taint a potential jury pool if he’s ever charged.

“I looked in his eyes. I don’t believe that he did it,” Haynes said.

Haynes sat down only with Eyewitness News.

“He was there staying with the deceased because she had been receiving some threats,” Haynes said.

Haynes said Richardson was brutally attacked.

“He was hit on the back of the head,” he said.

Haynes said Richardson was hit by two men inside the apartment just before the flames broke out.

“When he awoke the fire was going, the smoke was going,” Haynes said. “Right now he’s in intensive care. He has an injury to his leg that was a third-degree burn [and] issues with his lungs and coughing up blood.”

He also said Richard suffered from head trauma and facial fractures from the alleged attack, and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday.

Haynes wouldn’t say where Richardson is being treated, out of fear for Richardson’s safety.

The attorney also criticized the sheriff’s office and said deputies misled the public about what deputies said was a lack of cooperation from Richardson.

“He did give an eight-hour interview under extreme duress,” Haynes said.

Haynes said communication only ceased when Richardson was readmitted to the hospital.

“My client does want to cooperate,” Haynes said.

He also said he believes valuable time has been lost in the investigation as deputies focus on Richardson, and not the two alleged attackers.

Deputies have not commented on the lawyer’s claims.

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