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Teens charged in arson had earlier brush with law

February 03, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI and MARLO BARNHARTs

Two Washington County teenagers charged with burglarizing and setting Saturday's fire at the Mount Aetna Country Store aren't strangers to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

"We've known him since 1993 when he was not yet 12 years old," said Margaret Wagner, Department of Juvenile Justice case worker, at the 17-year-old's detention hearing Tuesday morning.

Wagner said the youth's co-defendant in that earlier incident - an attempted break-in - was Derrick Steven Carter, 18, of Smithsburg, who also was charged in Saturday's fire.

The fire caused $350,000 in damage to the 10445 Mapleville Road business, according to Maryland fire marshals.

Late Monday, Carter was charged with burglary, arson, theft and malicious destruction of property.

He was released on bond Tuesday,

The 17-year-old boy turned himself in to Maryland State Police on Monday.

He also was charged with burglary, arson, theft and malicious destruction of property, police said.

This morning, the youth appeared before Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell for a detention hearing. The boy's father was notified of the hearing but didn't attend.

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McDowell ordered the boy detained at the Noyes Center in Rockville, Md., pending a hearing on the charges.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum was at the detention hearing. A waiver hearing designed to move the case to adult court for trial with Carter is planned.

"These are extremely serious offenses," McDowell said. "We must ensure the safety of the public."

State police worked with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and investigators of the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Investigators recovered evidence and took statements from neighbors, which helped them identify suspects, police said.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Robert Hahn ruled the fire an arson on Saturday. From the beginning, police and fire marshals believed the fire was set by someone trying to cover evidence of a burglary.

The fire began at 4:04 a.m. inside the one-story building, according to Hahn.

It was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived, and took them an hour to extinguish.

There were no injuries.

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