Prosecution ends testimony in arson trial

January 26, 1994|By Staff Report

Prosecutors wrapped up their arson case yesterday against a Westminster man accused of setting fire to his West Main Street home last spring.

Charles Amidee Stair Jr., who says he didn't set the fire, is expected to present witnesses today who will say that he couldn't have possibly been at his 152 W. Main St. home before 3 p.m. on March 17, 1993, when the fire is believed to have started.

Yesterday, two defense witnesses -- a manager at the Westminster McDonald's restaurant and Mr. Stair's divorce lawyer -- testified that they had seen Mr. Stair before and after 3 p.m. on March 17. The witnesses were called in the middle of the state's case because of scheduling conflicts.

But most of yesterday's testimony focused on the origin and length of the fire. Deputy State Fire Marshal Frank Rauschenberg testified that the fire was ignited -- perhaps by a match or cigarette lighter -- in the basement of the $150,000 home. He said he believed the fire started in a pile of wood siding and cardboard. It burned for more than 40 minutes, causing $50,000 damage to the 90-year-old home.

Mr. Stair, 44, was charged with arson and reckless endangerment a week after the fire. The jury of seven men and five women could begin deliberations today.

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