- The Washington Times - Friday, April 8, 2005

Five of the suspects in the largest residential arson case in Maryland history pleaded not guilty yesterday to additional charges filed in the case, and their attorneys argued to suppress evidence in their upcoming trials.

Defense attorneys said investigators were not fully honest with the suspects during December interviews in which authorities sought incriminating evidence against them and failed to adequately inform them of their rights. Federal agents and a county detective who took part in the investigation testified that the information they gathered was voluntarily given.

John Chamble, a public defender for suspect Aaron Lee Speed, argued before U.S. District Judge Roger Titus in Greenbelt that his client was duped into taking a tour of the Hunters Brooke development in Charles County with investigators on Dec. 15, nine days after the blaze that caused more than $10 million in damage.

Mr. Chamble asked Detective Charles Baker, of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, if the tour of the complex was a ploy just to get Mr. Speed to talk about what he knew of the fires.

“That was the idea,” Detective Baker said.

Testimony was scheduled to continue next week, and Judge Titus held off on ruling on most of the motions.

However, Judge Titus granted a request to postpone the trial of the suspected ringleader — Patrick S. Walsh, 20, of Fort Washington — from May 31 to Sept. 6.

Yesterday’s hearing was held four days after a federal grand jury added 31 more arson counts to an indictment against five of the six men accused in the case.

The superseding indictment also accused Mr. Walsh of possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute the drug Ecstasy.

All five men have been charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson and aiding and abetting.

The other men are Michael M. Everhart, 20, of Waldorf, Md.; Jeremy Daniel Parady, 20, of Accokeek, Md.; and Roy T. McCann Jr., 22, of Marbury, Md.

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