$100,000 bond set in burning of homeless man

A man charged with dousing a homeless man with kerosene and setting him ablaze late Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the assault charge in Columbus Recorder’s Court Saturday.

Steve Blake is accused of burning a 48-year-old man at the tent city campsite near the downtown exit off J.R. Allen Parkway. Judge Julius Hunter ordered Blake, who surrendered to police, held on $100,000 bond and bound the aggravated assault charge over to Muscogee Superior Court.

With second and third-degree burns over his torso, the victim remains in critical condition at a burn center near Augusta, Ga., said police detective Jason Brown.

Brown said the victim and a woman were at the campsite drinking beer when the victim was splashed with kerosene and burned. Authorities found kerosene and items for lighting it at the scene.

Witnesses at the campsite identified Blake as a suspect. He fled the scene before emergency medical services personnel arrived.