Stewart Street Arson Case Bound Over To Common Pleas Court

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Two men suspected to have intentionally set fire to a residence on Stewart Street in Athens have surrendered and had their cases sent to Athens County Common Pleas Court.

Brian P. Manley, 19, of Clarence, N.Y., appeared in Athens County Municipal Court on Tuesday, where Judge William Grim set his case to be bound over to common pleas court. Manley is charged with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, and burglary, a second-degree felony. Since the charges are felonies, a plea was not entered as municipal court only handles misdemeanor charges.

Also charged is Mark Norman, 20, of Worthington, who did not enter a plea on March 7 when his initial appearance was scheduled. Norman is charged with the same offenses as Manley.

The cases were waived in municipal court so that common pleas could take over.

Both had arrest warrants on the charges, but both warrants were recalled after initial appearances were scheduled, according to municipal court records.

The warrants allege that the two trespassed in an occupied structure “that is a permanent or temporary habitation of any person."

Norman and Manley are accused of kicking in the window of 68 Stewart St. and entering the residence, according to previous Messenger reporting.

“Once in the house, a fire was ignited and caused extensive damage to the house and attached apartment, 68 1/2 Stewart St.,” the complaint attached to the warrant stated.

The 10-bedroom house caught fire on Feb. 23 at about 3:30 a.m.

Fire crews were on scene until around 5:30 a.m. to try to douse the flames, and several Ohio University students were reportedly displaced due to the blaze.

No one was believed to be home at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

Initial damage estimates for the home were about $250,000, according to Michael Duschesne, spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Manley was also charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and underage alcohol consumption, but both were dismissed in municipal court.

Manley had previous cases in municipal court, including two other charges of underage alcohol consumption and one count of telephone harassment which was dismissed in December.

Manley was given a bond of $25,000 with 10 percent allowed. A bond for Norman was not specified.

There were no court records for any other felony offenses listed under Manley or Norman's names. Norman's arson case was also not listed in the common pleas database as of Thursday morning.