The preliminary hearing of the woman suspected of setting the Taoist Temple Museum on fire has been put off until next year, according to the defendant’s attorney.
In October, 37-year-old Maxine Montenegro was scheduled to return to the Kings County Superior Courthouse for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9 regarding her arson charges as well as a separate incident for burglary. Here, the District Attorney’s office would present the case to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for trial. However, Jeffrey Boggs, the attorney representing Montenegro, said the preliminary had to be pushed back to January.
Montenegro was charged earlier this year for Taoist Temple fire that took place on the night of May 12-13. According to Arianne Wing of the China Alley Preservation Society, the fire destroyed the staircase and many of the artifacts inside — artifacts that were priceless and irreplaceable
Surveillance cameras had been set up in China Alley and would become crucial to the investigation. Footage showed someone lighting an article of clothing on fire and stuffing it under the door. Based on the footage, detectives determined that the suspect was most likely a transient. By working with the Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), they were eventually able to identify Montenegro — who is a transient — as the suspect. The announcement was made in June.
Montenegro was also charged with burglary that same month when she was allegedly found unconscious in a residence. If convicted, she could face upwards of 17 years in prison for the arson and 12 for the burglary.