Inmate indicted on arson charges

Brill is serving life for murder in 2000 of Ashley Nicole Mason

Howard County

April 08, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

One of two men convicted of murder in the high-profile stabbing and choking death of 14-year-old Ashley Nicole Mason in November 2000 was indicted yesterday on year-old arson charges.

Scott Jory Brill, 21, is accused of setting his jail cell on fire in the Howard County Detention Center on Dec. 14, 2002, hours after he was sentenced to life in prison but before he was transferred to the custody of the state Division of Correction, according to charging documents.

Although a detention center lieutenant filed paperwork to charge Brill the day of the fire, the former Columbia resident was not served with papers until February - after he wrote to Howard District Court officials to ask about any "pending warrants."

"I would like to either be charged formally or receive some sort of court date or have the charges dropped," Brill wrote from the Maryland House of Correction Annex in Jessup, where he had been serving his term.

Yesterday, a Howard County grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Brill, charging him with first-degree arson, second-degree arson and reckless endangerment. The top arson charge carries a maximum 30-year penalty.

The fire, which set off the sprinkler system, endangered Brill's life and the lives of eight other inmates in his housing unit and cost the county "several hundred dollars" in damages, according to the documents.

Brill's public defender, Louis P. Willemin, questioned yesterday the wisdom of trying his client. "Why do this on a guy that's already serving life?" he asked.

But prosecutor Brendan Clary said authorities believe that the fire was intentionally set - and that Brill is a man who "warrants our attention."

"Scott Brill has shown that he is a danger to the public, and any chance of increasing the time that he is away from the public is one that warrants pursuing, provided that the charges are legitimate," he said.

Brill and a second man, Frederick James Moore, 24, of Baltimore, were convicted of first-degree murder after separate trials and sentenced to life in prison for the killing of Mason, a Long Reach High School freshman whose body was found in a wooded area behind a Columbia Pizza Hut on Nov. 3, 2000. A medical examiner determined that she had been strangled and stabbed 34 times, according to testimony.

After his arrest, Brill told authorities that he had choked her, but "not all the way," and stabbed her once in the stomach but only "after she was dead." The two men had partied with Mason the night before her body was found, according to testimony.

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