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Martinsburg man faces first-degree arson count

March 29, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man arrested on a domestic battery charge Monday was jailed early Wednesday after police allege he used a microwave to burn his girlfriend's bills and other documents in the Berkeley County home they shared, according to jail and court records.

Aaron Scott Lanham, 35, of 85 Prune Lane in Martinsburg, was arraigned Wednesday on one felony count of first-degree arson by Berkeley County Magistrate Jim Humphrey, who set bond at $50,000, according to records.

Lanham was detained by Martinsburg Police Department officers and charged with public intoxication after an alleged altercation with a taxi cab driver about 30 minutes after the microwave fire was reported Tuesday night, said West Virginia State Police Trooper J.D. Burkhart, who investigated the arson and domestic battery incidents.

Reported just after 8 p.m., the fire destroyed the microwave and produced "thick smoke" in the home, but Burkhart said the blaze was extinguished before volunteer firefighters from Hedgesville, W.Va., arrived and their services were not needed.

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"(A neighbor) ... heard the smoke alarm going off inside the residence and could see thick smoke," Burkhart said.

On Monday, City Hospital staff in Martinsburg used nine staples to close a "deep" head wound that Lanham's girlfriend received during an argument with her boyfriend, Burkhart said.

Lanham's girlfriend was thrown to the floor and the back of her head struck the corner of a wall, Burkhart said. Trooper M.A. Cole served Lanham with a family protection order that the victim obtained since the incident Monday, Burkhart said.

Lanham was being held Wednesday night in Eastern Regional Jail.

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