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Man faces arson, DUI charges

July 08, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 30-year-old man accused of attempting Tuesday to burn the mobile home where his children live with their mother told police after being captured he had just used heroin, according to court records.

Eric Scott Hardy, of no fixed address, on Wednesday was in Eastern Regional Jail on charges of first-degree arson and fleeing while driving under the influence, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

A second DUI-related charge against Hardy was dropped by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Harmison after it was determined it was mistakenly filed as a felony and not as a misdemeanor, according to court officials.

Hardy was found in possession of a cigarette lighter after he was captured in a wooded area near Minnick Drive by Sheriff's Deputy T.S. Shetley, according to a complaint filed by police.

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"While placing this suspect under arrest for fleeing, he made the statement, 'Why are you arresting me? I didn't burn that house down. My kids live there,'" according to the complaint.

Shetley had made no mention of fire, according to the complaint.

No one, including homeowner Tabatha Smoot and Hardy's children, was home when the fire started at 185 Harranda Court, police have said. Damage was mostly confined to a rear bedroom, officials said. Smoot told police Hardy threatened to burn the home down less than 10 minutes before the fire was discovered.

Witnesses told police a man fled from Harranda Mobile Home Park onto Arden Nollville Road in a blue car, according to the complaint. Shetley saw a similar vehicle while he was driving north on Arden Nollville Road as the fire was being dispatched. He turned around to pursue the vehicle, which he said was speeding up, according to the complaint.

The vehicle made an abrupt turn, without braking, on to Minnick Avenue and turned in to the driveway of 106 Minnick Ave., where the driver fled on foot and left the car running, according to the complaint.

A hypodermic syringe was found in the center console and Hardy told police he had "shot up," but not enough to overdose, according to the complaint.

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