Homeless man set on fire in North Carolina has died; suspect now charged with first-degree murder

Robert Charles Austin

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A homeless man, set on fire over the weekend in East Asheville, has died from his injuries and the man accused of intentionally setting the fire has been charged with first-degree murder, WLOS reports.

Authorities say 58-year-old Larry Donnell Alston was set on fire just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Alston was transported to the Wake Forest Baptist Health Burn Center in Winston-Salem.

The Asheville Police Department said Alston passed away due to his injuries at approximately 4 a.m. Thursday.

Robert Charles Austin, 66, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with attempted murder. Warrants show those charges were upgraded to first-degree murder Thursday morning.

Austin is being held with no bond in the Buncombe County Jail on charges of first-degree murder. His next court date is scheduled for Sept. 11.

The Asheville Police Department is asking for assistance from the public in identifying two potential witnesses in the case. The drivers of the white GMC Sierra pickup truck and silver Jeep Liberty SUV depicted in surveillance photos may have information that would be beneficial to the investigation due to their presence in the area not long before the incident took place. Neither driver is considered a suspect in the case.

Anyone who has information concerning the incident in question or potential witnesses are asked to call APD at (828) 252-1110 or Asheville-Buncombe Crimestoppers at (828) 255-5050. Callers may remain anonymous with both numbers.

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