Jury finds man accused of torching state fire marshal car guilty | News

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Jury finds man accused of torching state fire marshal car guilty
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A jury has found a Prentiss Township man accused of torching a state fire marshal's car guilty of arson on Friday. 

John Weckerly, 56, is accused of setting the car on fire when fire marshals were investigating a string of arson and graffiti taggings near his isolated cabin.

This verdict comes after a jury deadlocked on whether Weckerly was guilty of arson almost two years ago. Weckerly was indicted by a grand jury on a dozen charges, including four counts of arson and five counts of criminal mischief. The jury found him not guilty on 11 of the charges, but could not determine one count of arson.

In a Bangor courtroom Friday, the state called its final witness to the stand Mark Soucie with the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit. Soucie testified that he had received photos from Ed Archer with the State Fire Marshal's Office. He said those photos were taken from a game camera placed by the fire marshals. His job was to enhance the photos so the fire marshals could see the photos better. 

Afterwards, the defense called the suspect, John Weckerly, to the stand who lived in an isolated cabin with no power or running water. In court he compared himself to a bear saying he "hibernates" in his cabin in winter. 

Weckerly testified Friday morning saying he didn't know there was a car on fire until he was arrested on August 3, 2011. Weckerly said he survived the winter on 200 lbs of brown rice and beans and said he did this for 12 years living in the isolated cabin. 

While on the stand Weckerly said didn't use kerosene, but only had gasoline for a scooter. Defense said the evidence shows chemicals found in torched car were kerosene. 

"This case have been, as I said, a long hard slog.There was a lot of evidence that the State Fire Marshal's Office gathered and I think that between the first trial and the second trial, we just re-evaluated how to present the evidence in a more coherent fashion and I  think that made a big difference," said District Attorney, Christopher Almy. 

When the guilty verdict was read Friday afternoon, Weckerly did not react. The judge ordered a mental health evaluation before a sentence. A sentencing date has not been set.

 


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