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Westminster man, 19, convicted of arson at ex-girlfriend's New Windsor home; Judge also finds him guilty of endangerment


A 19-year-old Westminster man was convicted of arson and reckless endangerment yesterday for igniting gasoline at a New Windsor home -- while his former girlfriend, their baby son, her parents and her new boyfriend were inside -- last year.

As part of a plea bargain, Christopher Lee Myers could receive up to 30 years in prison for first-degree arson at sentencing, scheduled for May 11 by Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns.

Myers, of no fixed address, was captured near railroad tracks in Westminster after a three-day search and has been held at the Carroll County Detention Center.

In a plea bargain that covered seven cases -- and another possible charge -- Myers agreed to forgo a trial and proceed upon a statement of facts by Assistant State's Attorney Clarence W. Beall III.

The judge found Myers guilty of the arson charge and convicted him of five lesser counts of reckless endangerment on the occupants of the home rather than more serious assault charges.

The events leading to the arson began about 8 p.m. July 27 at East Main Street and Washington Road in Westminster, where Myers struck and threatened to kill his former girlfriend, Kelly Hommerbocker, 18, who was with Steven Sykes, Myers' friend and her new boyfriend.

Myers headed for her home in New Windsor on a stolen bicycle that broke about halfway along the seven-mile trek, Beall said. Walking the rest of the way, he stopped at a 7-Eleven store in New Windsor -- where he got into a brawl and was bloodied. The incident was recorded on the store camera.

In a confession, Myers told police he arrived about 9: 30 p.m. at the home in the 2800 block of Graybill Court, where he had lived until about a month before, Beall said. He lay under a car in the garage for two hours, until he heard Hommerbocker and Sykes return and go inside.

Also inside were his sleeping son, 1-year-old Curtis Myers, and Laura and David Hommerbocker, the prosecutor said. Myers poured a trail of gasoline through the garage and shrubbery and on the deck and ignited it.

Mrs. Hommerbocker discovered the fire after hearing a bang, which Myers said he caused to alert the occupants. But neighbors saw him fleeing on a bicycle before the family ran out, Beall said.

Mr. Hommerbocker extinguished the fire and drove his 1998 Chevy pickup and a 1995 Ford Explorer out of the garage through waist-high flames, Beall said. Damage to the house and vehicles amounted to more than $13,000.

Myers said only "yes" repeatedly, as he agreed to the plea bargain.

Among the other charges settled in the agreement were the thefts of two cars, one from Ocean City on June 25 and another from a Westminster home on June 17; the theft of a bicycle; and burning of a motor vehicle in an unrelated incident.

Beall dropped a charge of robbery with a deadly weapon for lack of evidence, he said, and two other theft charges -- the bicycle Myers stole from the Hommerbocker home, and a compact disc and a T-shirt stolen from a friend -- were placed on inactive status.

Beall said the agreement did not provide "blanket coverage" for any crimes that might be discovered, "but we know of no others at this time."

Pub Date: 2/11/99

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