- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Five of the six suspects charged with arson in the fires that caused $10 million in damage to a Charles County, Md., housing development pleaded not guilty yesterday in federal court in Greenbelt.

Attorneys for Michael M. Everhart, Roy T. McCann Jr., Jeremy Daniel Parady, Aaron Lee Speed and Patrick S. Walsh entered pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day. Along with arson, the men also are charged with conspiracy and aiding and abetting. A sixth suspect, Michael E. Gilbert, is charged with arson but has not been indicted.

Prosecutors say they think the men drove to the Hunters Brooke development early Dec. 6, poured chemicals in houses that were under construction and set them ablaze. Ten houses were destroyed and 16 others were damaged.

The men were all part of a group known as “the family” and had a mutual interest in street racing. Prosecutors say the group, led by Mr. Walsh, plotted the fires as far back as August. Mr. Speed worked as a private security guard at Hunters Brooke.

No clear motive has emerged, but court filings suggest Mr. Walsh hoped to make a name for the group with the fires. Revenge is also a possible motive, since Mr. Speed was angry at his employer and Mr. Parady was rejected by the builder for a job, say prosecutors.

Trial dates were set for the five. Mr. Walsh will be tried May 31, Mr. Parady on June 14, Mr. Speed on July 12, Mr. McCann on Aug. 9 and Mr. Everhart on Aug. 23.

Three of the men have been ordered released on home detention as they await trial. Mr. McCann was let go yesterday morning, more than two weeks after Judge Day originally ordered him released. He did not comment as he left the courthouse with his mother, Barbara Harrison.

Mr. McCann originally was to live at his mother’s house in Marbury, Md., but her landlord would not allow another person stay there. Under an arrangement approved by Judge Day yesterday, Mr. McCann will live at his girlfriend’s house with his mother.

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