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Man waives preliminary hearings on arson charges

January 04, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A man charged by Chambersburg police with setting two fires in the borough waived his preliminary hearings in both cases Tuesday in Franklin County Central Court.

Robert J. Smith, 27, formerly of 270 S. Main St., Apt. 3, is charged with first-degree felony arson for a fire set on the afternoon of Dec. 27 at Person Directed Supports Inc., 978 Lincoln Way East. He also was charged by borough police with second-degree felony arson and a third-degree felony charge of causing or risking a catastrophe in a Nov. 6 fire in his apartment.

Smith, who was released on $25,000 bail four days after the Nov. 6 fire, remained in Franklin County Prison Tuesday on the $500,000 bail set after the Dec. 27 fire, Public Defender Michael Toms said. His mandatory arraignment in Franklin County Court was set for Feb. 15, Toms said.

Police said Smith, who was staying at the Lincoln Way East address, used a lighter to set fire to a handkerchief, which was then used to set fire to a piece of furniture. The affidavit of probable cause stated Smith was seen leaving the rear of the building and allegedly told a witness he set the fire.

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Smith allegedly told police he was depressed and set the fire intentionally, staying in the building until he could no longer stand the smoke, according to the affidavit.

The fire caused about $200,000 in damage, according to Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Jeffrey Sarver.

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