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Man gets 15 years for torching theater

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A 20-year-old Harford County man pleaded guilty yesterday to burning the Painters Mill Music Theater, and was sentenced to a 15-year-prison term.

Bradley Spitler entered his plea to statutory burning before Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull, according to Mark Tilkin, an assistant state's attorney.

The music theater, located in Owings Mills, was severely damaged by the fire March 18, 1991. Fire officials estimated the damage at $1.4 million.

Spitler, formerly of Belcamp, escaped from the Sykesville prison laundry camp in Carroll County on March 17, 1991.

According to a statement read into the court record, Spitler and three companions went to the music theater the next night and used a torch to break in.

They then attempted to use the torch, which was stolen, to crack the Painters Mill safe, according to the statement of facts.

Unable to get the safe open, Spitler set the offices of the music theater on fire.

"He told some people that he set the fire to get back at the owners of Painters Mill," who had previously accused him of breaking and entering at the theater, said Mr. Tilkin.

Before they left, the four thieves also stole beer from a walk-in cooler, a radio, flashlights and a black-and-white television set.

The other defendants -- Freddie Lee Ferguson, 28, of Owings Mills, Debra A. Mann, 23, of Reisterstown and William Harlow, 21, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering last July 30.

Spitler, who is serving a four-year term for breaking and entering, is to be tried today in Carroll County in connection with the escape from the Sykesville laundry camp.

If convicted, he could receive a sentence of up to 10 years.

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