A Dubuque man has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge accusing him of setting fire to his front door after locking himself out while his daughter was still inside.

Raymond W. Callis Jr., 32, of 620 W. Locust St., recently entered a written plea of not guilty in Iowa District Court of Dubuque County. He faces charges of first-degree arson and neglect of a dependent person.

Court documents state that Callis at about 6 a.m. Oct. 15 stepped outside his residence to have a cigarette but accidentally locked himself out. He unsuccessfully tried to “open or break several of the windows,” authorities said.

“Raymond Callis stated that he then doused his apartment door with lighter fluid and set the door on fire,” police said. “Raymond stood by with a bucket of water. He advised that his intent was to melt the weather stripping, so he could pry the door open.”

His 1-year-old daughter was sleeping inside at the time, and an upstairs tenant also was at home.

Police were called that evening by Callis’ aunt, who owns the duplex, after Callis called her to report setting the fire earlier in the day to try to get back into his residence, according to court documents.

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