Skip to comments.Homeowner who fought firefighters admits guilt
Posted on 01/05/2006 5:43:58 AM PST by radar101
An Escondido man who prevented firefighters from entering his burning home until it was too late to save it pleaded guilty yesterday to deterring officials from performing their duties by means of threat or violence.
Steven Boyer, 35, faces up to one year in jail in a plea agreement reached in Superior Court. Judge Michael Kirkman scheduled sentencing for Feb. 2. Boyer's upscale split-level hillside home on Inspiration Lane was destroyed in the Nov. 11 blaze. The loss was estimated at $850,000.
In return for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped other charges, including a count of being under the influence of methamphetamine. Boyer also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge stemming from an arrest five days before the fire. Despite the drug charge, Boyer's lawyer said outside of court yesterday that tests showed his client was not under the influence of a controlled substance during the fire.
Defense lawyer Michael McGlinn told the judge that Boyer did not have a criminal record before the November incidents but has a history of mental illness and may have been suffering from bipolar disorder the afternoon of the fire.
Neighbors reported the blaze about 5:20 p.m. and said the owner was outside and possibly had a gun, Escondido Fire Department spokeswoman Carol Rea said at the time. Rea said fire crews sprayed the flames from nozzles mounted on their trucks but held back from rushing forward with hoses.
They saw Boyer on an embankment behind his house, jumping about and waving his arms, threatening to kill anyone who came near, Rea said.
When Boyer walked to the front of the house through the garage "firefighters jumped on him and subdued him," Rea said. The eight-minute delay in fighting the fire allowed flames to engulf the house. All firefighters could do was keep the fire from spreading to other homes, Rea said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Escondido police Lt. David Mankin said it appeared to be arson. Mankin said it is not against the law to burn down one's own house unless an insurance claim is made.
Outside of court, McGlinn said the fire was an accident and that Boyer had been fixing up the house in hopes of selling it for a $400,000 profit.
A former securities dealer, Boyer had recently fallen into depression after the loss of his job and breakup of his marriage, McGlinn said. He was drinking too much at the time of the blaze, McGlinn said.
A psychologist who interviewed Boyer at McGlinn's request concluded Boyer suffers from bipolar disorder and is in need of treatment.
McGlinn asked the judge to release Boyer from jail on the promise that he immediately be placed in a care facility where his mental problems could be addressed. Kirkman instead ordered Boyer to remain in custody without bail until his sentencing.
J. Harry Jones: (760) 737-7579; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kind of a sad, pitiful case, huh?
Soundslike he didn't want the ex wife to get the house.
Well knock me over with a feather!