- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

An FBI agent in the trial of the last two defendants in the biggest arson case in Maryland history testified yesterday about evidence found at the crime scene, including buckets and containers used to carry flammable liquids.

Special agent Margo Barter identified 5-gallon buckets, 1-gallon cans, 3-gallon plastic containers, a propane torch and rubber gloves. Investigators have said some of the containers were used to carry flammable liquids into the development where 26 houses were either damaged or destroyed by fire, sometimes a day or two in advance.

The Dec. 6, 2004, fires at the Hunters Brooke subdivision near Indian Head, Md., caused an estimated $10 million in damage.

Mrs. Barter was among eight witnesses to testify yesterday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt in the conspiracy and arson trial for Roy T. McCann Jr., 23, and Michael M. Everhart, 21, both of Waldorf, Md.

None of the testimony or evidence presented yesterday linked the defendants to the conspiracy.

Patrick S. Walsh, 21, of Fort Washington, was sentenced to 19 years in prison in December in the case.

Aaron Lee Speed, 22, of Waldorf, and Jeremy Daniel Parady, 21, of Accokeek, pleaded guilty in the case, and Parady testified against Walsh.

Speed, a former security guard at Hunters Brooke, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison, and Parady received a seven-year term.

Judge Roger W. Titus ordered each of them to pay an estimated $3.3 million in restitution.

Authorities ascribed a variety of motives to the group, including a desire to gain fame for their street-racing club and anger that many of the residents moving into Hunters Brooke were black.

In November, 32 Hunters Brooke residents filed a discrimination lawsuit against the five men, all of whom are white.

The only time the name of a defendant was mentioned yesterday was when Mr. McCann attorney’s, Joshua Treen, asked Terri Rookrod, who lives in the Charles County development, whether she had ever seen his client.

Mrs. Rookrod said, “No,” but cried as she described her family’s reaction to the fires.

Robert Skatzes, 53, who lives a half-mile from Hunters Brooke, testified that his wife got up as usual that day at 3:45 a.m. and told him the woods were on fire.

Mr. Skatzes said he went outdoors to see more clearly and returned to say, “That’s not the woods. That’s the houses on fire.”

Potomac Heights fire department Deputy Chief Brian Phillips testified that about 200 firefighters answered the alarms and used 320,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames.

“I was rather shocked to see so many houses affected,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Joseph Zurolo, who has been fighting fires 31 years.

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