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Youths admit role in fire

April 23, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Two youngsters accused in an 0ctober 1997 fire at a Hagerstown apartment building admitted their involvement Wednesday during a juvenile hearing in Washington County Circuit Court.

The boys, ages 12 and 14, were sent to Noyes Detention Center in Rockville, Md., pending disposition for malicious destruction of property.

"You both seem to be out of control," said Judge John H. McDowell after hearing reports about difficulties both were having in school. "I don't know what else to do."

When Hagerstown Fire Department personnel responded at 6:23 p.m. to a fire at 121 Manor Drive, Apt. 2-A, they found a rug and blankets on fire against the baseboard of the apartment.

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There was $300 damage to the wall and the floor, police reports and photographs indicated.

Initially, Matthew Edward Belcher, 18, of 111 Manor Drive, was charged with first-degree malicious burning, according to Hagerstown Assistant Fire Marshal Wayne Smith.

On Tuesday, Belcher pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to malicious burning. He was sentenced to three years in prison with all but 15 days suspended. Those days are to be served in the local jail.

The two juveniles were charged a short time after Belcher was identified and charged, police reports said.

The younger boy told police the older boy had a key to the apartment. The older boy denied that to police.

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