Arson suspect Anthony Stephen Hooper, 21, appeared in Columbus Recorder's Court this morning where he pleaded not guilty to burning down a mobile home early Saturday.
Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to Lot 514, 3150 Plateau Drive, about 1:30 a.m. in reference to a trailer that was engulfed in flames. The mobile home was vacant at the time, authorities said.
A Pine Grove Mobile Home Park resident testified in court that she saw the suspect standing outside the trailer with a lighter in his hand. They were conversing and smoking cigarettes, she said. Eventually, she went inside her home to check on her children. When she came back out, the vacant residence was on fire and she noticed that Hooper had changed his shirt.
Authorities located Hooper a short distance from the flaming trailer inside a car that was occupied by three other people. When authorities asked him about the fire he allegedly told them he started it by accident. Police said he later admitted to lighting a handful of pine straw and throwing it under the mobile home. He then changed his shirt and walked off.
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“Subject also stated to police ... that he wanted to light the pine straw on fire because he had nothing else to do,” reports state.
The fire caused approximately $1,500 in damage to the mobile home. It also damaged a couple of adjacent residences, a fire official said in court.
Hooper is charged with first-degree arson. He was assessed a $15,000 bond and his case was bound over to Superior Court.