City man convicted of arson, murder

Fire set in girlfriend's house last year killed her grandmother

October 30, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUNS STAFF

A West Baltimore man was convicted in Baltimore Circuit Court of setting fire to his girlfriend's house after a bitter quarrel, and killing the women's 61-year-old grandmother.

Leroy Spencer of the 2400 block of Presbury St. was convicted by a jury Monday of felony murder, attempted murder and arson after a weeklong trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 27.

"It is one of the more outrageous, heinous acts I've seen," said Assistant State's Attorney April Gluckstern.

The deadly blaze occurred July 15 last year, after Spencer had a fight with his girlfriend, Lashelle Bryant, 24, at her house in the 400 block of S. Parrish St. An enraged Spencer left the house screaming that he would come back and set it on fire, Gluck- stern said.

None of the six people in the house believed Spencer, including Bryant's grandmother, Sandra Jeffries.

"It was a Sunday afternoon," Gluckstern said. "Nobody took him seriously."

But 20 minutes later, Spencer returned and poured gasoline on his girlfriend's head and inside the house. He lit a match and flames erupted.

Bryant and others were able to run out the front door or jump from second-story windows. But Jeffries -- who had five children, 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren -- was enveloped in flames as she sat on the couch.

On fire, Jeffries ran from the house, and family members tried to extinguish the flames.

She was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she lived for 64 days. On Sept. 17 last year, Jeffries, who lived in the 700 block of N. Hilton St., died.

Spencer had a drug conviction in 1998, and had assaulted his girlfriend two weeks before the fire, causing injuries that required stitches, Gluckstern said. No charges were filed in that incident.

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