Baltimore man found guilty of trying to kill wife by arson

August 11, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A 54-year-old Baltimore man who broke into his estranged wife's Edgewood home, doused her with gasoline and held a lighted match about 8 inches from her head last summer was convicted yesterday on charges including first-degree attempted murder and attempted arson.

The Harford County Circuit Court jury deliberated more than four hours before returning the unanimous verdict against Robert Joseph Mintzer after a five-day trial.

Judge Cypert O. Whitfill set sentencing for Sept. 16. Mintzer faces a maximum penalty of life plus 30 years, according to the prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney M. Elizabeth Bowen.

Mintzer was convicted of the premeditated crimes against Mary Kathleen Mintzer, 52, as well as assault with intent to murder, reckless endangerment, and assault and battery.

The jury also found him guilty of assault with intent to maim, disable and disfigure Ronald James Lawson, 28, a neighbor who intervened and subdued Mintzer when the match he was holding went out.

Mintzer also was convicted of reckless endangerment against his wife's son, Phillip Armand Nolet.

Mary Mintzer, fighting back tears, said she was glad she now could begin to go on with her life.

At the trial, Ms. Bowen said Mintzer clearly planned to murder his wife and came to her home prepared to do it with a can of gasoline, a book of matches and an 11-inch knife.

Ms. Bowen said it did not matter if Mintzer really consumed 10 or more tall rum-and-Coke drinks at a Highlandtown bar, as he claimed on the witness stand, or took 20 prescription tranquilizer pills before he headed to Edgewood the night of Aug. 8, 1993.

Mintzer testified that he had been drinking from about 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and did not remember how he got to Reisterstown Road in Baltimore County, where he was stopped by a police officer for making an illegal left turn.

"The officer certainly didn't pick up on the odor of alcohol at 9:15 p.m. when he wrote the ticket," Ms. Bowen said.

Amanda Bull, Mintzer's public defender, said her client was incapable of planning the crimes because he was too intoxicated.

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