Arsonist's plea for new trial denied

March 24, 1994

Convicted arsonist Charles Amidee Stair Jr. will not get a new trial, a Carroll Circuit judge ruled yesterday.

Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. disagreed with Stair's contention that prosecutors charged him under the wrong section of the arson statute.

A Carroll jury convicted Stair, 44, of Westminster, of arson and reckless endangerment on Jan. 27 after 11 hours of deliberations over two days.

During the trial, Margaret Mead, Stair's attorney, asked the judge to dismiss the case before allowing it to go to the jury. She said the state charged her client incorrectly and did not present enough evidence to prove that arson occurred.

The judge denied her request.

"As I did in the trial, I accept the state's argument," Judge Burns said yesterday in denying Ms. Mead's motion.

Stair was found guilty of setting fire to 152 W. Main St., a home owned by him and his estranged wife, on March 17, 1993. The blaze caused more than $50,000 damage to the refurbished 90-year-old home.

When he is sentenced, Stair could receive prison terms totaling 25 years on the two counts.

Judge Burns has not set a sentencing date.

Cable snaps, power to 1,300 disrupted

Several acres of brush and small trees along Route 27 north of Hahn Road ignited and burned when a high voltage electric cable snapped and fell to the ground about noon yesterday, knocking out power to about 1,300 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers.

The customers lost power when the cable broke. An employee of the power company disconnected two feeder cables attached to the new 75-foot metal pole -- installed last year to upgrade the line from Finksburg to Westminster from 33,000 volts to 115,000 volts -- so firefighters could safely deal with the brush fire.

The line that snapped carried 13,000 volts, according to Peggy Malloy, a spokeswoman for the electric company.

When the cable touched the ground, arcing ignited the brush, and the fire spread to the embankment on the east side of Route 27.

Four hundred workers at the English American Tailoring Co., just north of the cable break, were sent home about 1 p.m., one hour after the clothing manufacturing plant lost electricity and the employees were unable to work.

When the cable broke, one end slid down the tower, charring the metal and turning a small section of the pole from green to black.

Firefighters from Westminster responded and extinguished the brush fire.

No one was injured, and power was restored shortly after 3 p.m., the spokeswoman said.

POLICE

* Westminster: Two merchants in the first block of E. Main St. reported that someone threw red paint on the show windows of their businesses Tuesday. One of the stores, the Beltone Hearing Aid Service, had a large rock thrown through the show window last week and the automobile of the owner, Richard King, was vandalized while it was parked behind the building. The total damage and loss is unknown.

A resident of Royer Road told city police someone broke the antenna of his automobile Tuesday while it was parked near his house. The loss is estimated at $55.

FIRE

* Carrollton: Reese, Westminster and Hampstead responded for a shed fire in the 1900 block of Carrollton Road at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. Units were out for 66 minutes.

* Sandymount: Reese and Westminster responded for a propane tank leaking in a house in the 800 block of Miller Drive at 4:08 p.m. Wednesday. Units were out for 21 minutes.

* Westminster: Westminster and Reese responded for a burst solar panel in the 1000 block of Gahle Road at 1:13 p.m. Wednesday. Units were out for 39 minutes.

Westminster responded for a brush fire at Route 27 and Cranberry Road at 12:03 p.m. Wednesday. Units were out for 68 minutes.

Westminster responded for wires on fire in the 300 block of Rockland Road at 6:56 p.m. Tuesday. They were out for 26 minutes.

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