Man acquitted of setting fire to another's truck Traffic dispute escalated to duel with shovels

March 21, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man has been acquitted of setting fire to another man's truck after a traffic dispute escalated into a duel with shovels at the Twin Kiss restaurant parking lot nearly 14 months ago.

A Carroll County jury deliberated about 50 minutes yesterday before rendering its verdict in favor of Robert J. Dallatezza, 38, of the 800 block of Young Court.

Dallatezza's version of what happened differed in critical aspects from that of Frederick W. Blickenstaff, 45, of the 2000 block of Herbert Ave. in Westminster.

The jury heard both men testify that Dallatezza flashed an obscene gesture at Blickenstaff at Royer Road and Windsor Drive. Dallatezza said he was forced to swerve around Blickenstaff's truck that partially entered the intersection.

Both agreed that Blickenstaff followed Dallatezza to Route 140 where they turned east toward Westminster, stopped along the highway to exchange words and confronted one another at the restaurant parking lot.

Blickenstaff said he grabbed an ax handle to defend himself and Dallatezza said he sprayed Blickenstaff with a pepper-based chemical.

Blickenstaff said he struck Dallatezza once in the head.

Dallatezza said he was struck four or five times and he was treated at Carroll County General Hospital for a laceration that took three stitches to close.

At some point, both men grabbed shovels from the back of the pickup truck and began dueling.

Blickenstaff said Dallatezza poured gasoline from a container in the back of the truck on his tools in the truck bed and ignited the blaze with a match.

Dallatezza denied having matches. He said he smoked cigars only occasionally and never anywhere but at home.

Justin Dallatezza, 12, the defendant's son, testified that the two men were battling back and forth near the truck when the flames shot skyward.

He confirmed that his father did not regularly smoke.

Blickenstaff testified that he told Dallatezza to "go ahead and burn the truck; your insurance company is going to pay for it."

The damage was estimated at $6,200 for the truck and $2,100 for tools in the truck bed.

Blickenstaff left the courtroom as soon as the verdict was announced without commenting.

Dallatezza said he was glad the 14-month ordeal has ended.

"The worst part was watching my son attacked by the prosecutor," he said.

Prosecutor Jerry Joyce suggested in his closing arguments that the sixth-grader had been coached on what to say, but praised the boy for having the courage to testify.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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