A Charlotte man who was arrested in connection to a 1985 cold case murder appeared in court on Thursday.
Arthur Blake, 58, is charged with murder and first degree arson in the death of 42-year-old Tony Baucom, according to Charlotte police. Blake showed up in an orange jump suit noticeably emotional.
"Arthur's got a great heart," Supporter Janet Wilmoth said. "He's a loving person. He's kind."
In court on Thursday, the judge gave Blake a $750,000 bond.
"Who has $750,000 in today's world." Blake supporter Steve Purnell said.
More than 20 people showed up at the courthouse in support of Blake. When they stood up Blake started to cry. Those supporters told WBTV that they were going to try to raise the bail money for him.
"We're all just in there wondering," Wilmoth said. "How are we going to raise that money for a bond. It's a lot of money."
Baucom's relatives were also in court but didn't want to speak to the media.
The incident happened on April 26, 1985, when Charlotte Officers responded to 1721 E. 7th Street in reference to a working apartment fire.
Once the fire was controlled, Police found Baucom's body inside of an apartment due to the injuries sustained in the fire.
Prosecutors say there was a tent located outside the apartment. The tent belonged to Blake's ex-boyfriend. It was stated Blake set the tent on fire and that set the apartment on fire causing the death of Baucom.
"I feel sorry for him." Blake's mother Joyce Newell said.
During the 1985 investigation conducted by the Charlotte Police Department, the Charlotte Fire Department, ATF and SBI, no suspect was identified. Investigators say Blake was a suspect but didn't have enough evidence.
In March 2014, detectives received information from fire investigators which led detectives to re-open the almost 30-year-old investigation. It was revealed Blake's brother told police his brother did it.
After interviewing several key witnesses in the case and working closely with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office, warrants were obtained for Blake. Investigators also say Blake confessed to the crime, but friends say Blake was nervous and took medicine for anxiety and was not aware of what he told police.
"When police arrested him," Purnell said. "He was afraid and he took those pills because he didn't want the police to push him. He took the tranquilizers to be tranquil."
Blake's lawyer wanted the bond set at $50,000. The lawyer told the judge because of his client's sexual orientation, he had been assaulted in the county jail and needed to get out.
"It's horrible," Wilmoth said. "He went to the hospital. That is so wrong. He should be guarded - protected."
If Blake makes bond he is to wear an ankle bracelet and stay with a certain family member. Blake's next court appearance is September 18.
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