Man gets 30 years in attempt to burn home of ex-girlfriend, son

Westminster resident, 19, found guilty of arson, reckless endangerment

May 12, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man who attempted to burn the home of his ex-girlfriend, their baby son and her parents received a 30-year prison sentence yesterday in Carroll Circuit Court.

Before he was sentenced for arson, Christopher Lee Myers, 19, told Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. he was sorry for igniting gasoline at the New Windsor home last year.

Myers entered into a plea bargain in February. After the prosecutor's statement of facts, he was found guilty of arson and five counts of reckless endangerment against each of the people at the home, and of two automobile thefts. Numerous other charges against him were dropped.

Since being jailed at the county Detention Center in July, Myers has earned his high school equivalency degree and had begun working on his drug problem after seeing fellow prisoners go then return to jail.

"The past 19 years, I look back and I'm like, `Why did I do these things?' I'd like to go back to about second grade," Myers said. "I don't want to keep coming back."

Burns imposed the maximum sentence, saying, "The real problem I have with this case is that [Myers] knew that his son, who was a baby, was in the house."

Without quick action that extinguished the fire, the judge said, "we could be involved in a murder case."

"This wasn't just a spur-of-the-moment act," said Clarence W. Beall III, an assistant state's attorney who asked that Myers be ordered to serve 25 years of the 30-year maximum under the plea agreement and called him "a danger to himself and an extreme danger to others."

Daniel Shemer, assistant public defender, asked Burns to suspend some of the sentence and to consider modifying it later.

Myers threatened to kill 18-year-old Kelly Hommerbocker when he saw her with her new boyfriend, Steven Sykes, on the street in Westminster at 8 p.m. July 27, the prosecutor said, about 2 1/2 hours before he set the fire.

He stole a bicycle and headed for her parents' home in the 2900 block of Graybill Court, Beall said. When the bicycle broke, Myers walked the rest of the way to New Windsor, then hid under a car in the family's garage.

When he heard Hommerbocker and Sykes coming home, Beall said, Myers poured gasoline around the garage and shrubbery and up to a deck, and lighted it, leaving on another bicycle as the house caught fire, according to a witness. Myers hid for three days before being arrested.

David Hommerbocker was able to extinguish the fire in his garage, yelling to his wife, Laura, and the others to get 1-year-old Curtis Myers, who was asleep upstairs, out, Beall said.

Pub Date: 5/12/99

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