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Plea deal pending in arson case

January 24, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Joshua Daniel Stevens
Joshua Daniel Stevens

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man accused of setting fire to a vacant duplex in Martinsburg last year could be sentenced to 71 years in prison for the alleged arson and a string of other crimes.

A plea agreement that would settle the case against Joshua Daniel Stevens, 31, is pending before 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III, who is expected to review the terms of the deal between Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely’s office and defense attorney Ron Rossi.

Silver scheduled a hearing for March 28 to consider the plea and possibly to sentence Stevens. The plea offer also is contingent upon approval by the victims and the investigating police officers, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carmela M. Cesare said Monday.

Stevens signed a three-page agreement to enter guilty pleas to felony counts of first-degree arson, grand larceny, burglary, attempted burglary, robbery and forgery of a credit card, one misdemeanor count of domestic battery and three misdemeanor counts of breaking and entering of an automobile on Jan. 18, according to court records.

Stevens, who has been incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail since May 2009, would serve the felony sentences consecutively, allowing him to be eligible for parole after serving 12 years and three months.

In addition to the prison sentences, Stevens would have to pay restitution to the victims.

Co-defendant Falon Sue Mauck, 26, who previously signed off on a separate plea agreement, had agreed to be a state’s witness in Stevens’ case, officials have said.

Mauck faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, but would be eligible for parole in two years as part of a plea agreement that also is pending. Mauck signed a plea offer letter, agreeing to plead guilty to one felony count of forgery of a credit card, a misdemeanor count of breaking and entering of an automobile, and a felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Mauck and Stevens were accused of setting the fire at 910 Central Ave. in a clothes dryer with items stolen from a Martinsburg Police Department cruiser near Moler Avenue, according to court records.

The fire went out by itself, but not before causing about $10,000 in smoke damage and destroying the dryer, fire officials said.

Police found a metal clipboard, traffic citations and other police forms in the dryer that came from a cruiser assigned to Sgt. Brian Yost, according to court records.

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