DA Vance: Wei Chu Hu Sentenced to 20-Years-to-Life in State Prison for Setting Fatal Fire in Nolita Apartment Building

January 5, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of WEI CHU HU, 47, to 20-years-to-life in state prison for setting a fatal fire in his Spring Street apartment building in January 2013. HU pleaded guilty on November 21, 2014 in New York Supreme Court to one count of Murder in the Second Degree and one count of Arson in the First Degree.

“Wei Chu Hu turned a personal dispute into a senseless murder when he purposely set fire to the five-story apartment building he shared with his wife and son,” said District Attorney Vance. “The deadly blaze took the life of one of the building’s residents as she attempted to escape and destroyed the building, rendering it uninhabitable for dozens of residents for nearly two years. This defendant will now serve a lengthy prison sentence for his devastating actions.” 

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, at approximately 6:30 p.m. on January 10, 2013, following an argument with his wife, HU started a fire in the couple’s Spring Street apartment. As a result of the fire, the body of 66-year-old Renee Lea Willems, the defendant’s upstairs neighbor, was later found on the building’s fire escape. 

Assistant District Attorney Craig Ortner prosecuted this case, with assistance from Ayanna Sorett and Elizabeth Sheetz, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kerry O’Connell, Chief of Trial Bureau 80, William Mahoney, Chief of Trial Bureau 60, and Executive District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division.

Defendant Information:

WEI CHU HU, D.O.B. 8/4/1967
New York, NY

•    Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, one count
•    Arson in the First Degree, a class A felony, one count

•    20 years-to-life in state prison