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No change in bail for Dover teen facing felony arson charge
DOVER – A judge determined not to reduce the $100,000 bail in the case against a 19-year-old who allegedly set a fire which burned a family of five out of their downtown home earlier this week.
Shawn Hoyt, 19, of 8 Lincoln St., Dover, was charged with arson – a Class A felony – for allegedly improperly disposing of a cigarette which started a two-alarm fire in an attached garage at 28 Broadway St., Dover, Tuesday night.
The fire, which destroyed the home on Broadway Street, also damaged an adjacent duplex at 27 Pierce St. While no one was injured, a mother and four children – including a baby — lost their home.
Hoyt was arrested near the scene and initially held overnight on $5,000 cash bail, which was increased to $100,000 during a video arraignment in Rochester Wednesday.
During a bail hearing Thursday morning, assistant county attorney Tim Sullivan said the judge upheld the bail. As part of the bail conditions, Hoyt must undergo a mental health evaluation.
Sullivan said Hoyt’s attorney, Carl Swenson of the N.H. Public Defender's Office, argued bail should be lowered to allow Hoyt to take advantage of the mental health services in the community. He added Swenson believed Strafford County Community Corrections Program should reassess Hoyt so he could be accepted into and be monitored by them, if released.
“We still feel he’s a danger to the community,” Sullivan said, adding there are medical and mental health programs available for those in custody.
Hoyt, who remains in Strafford County jail, is scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing May 7 at 10 a.m. in 7th Circuit Court, Dover District Division.
Before the video arraignment Wednesday, Hoyt’s mother, Lisa, said her son “is mentally challenged” and has disabilities.
“I’m just glad everyone’s OK,” Lisa Hoyt said.
As part of the investigation, Detective Timothy Burt spoke to Hoyt along Pierce Street as police searched for witnesses at the scene. During this conversation, Hoyt said he had been walking in the area, but he “provided conflicting statements about where he had been coming from,” according to the affidavit.
During further interviews, investigators smelled “an odor of smoke on Hoyt’s person.”
“Hoyt admitted to going into the garage at 28 Broadway. He said that he had been smoking a cigarette in the garage,” according to the affidavit.
“Hoyt said he left the garage and ran up the street looking for help but was unable to find anyone,” according to the affidavit.
Dover Fire Chief Richard Driscoll said the “fully involved” garage fire spread into a home, and the heat from the blaze shattered windows and melted the vinyl siding of the duplex, which was less than 20 feet away.
“It’s a very old Dover neighborhood,” Driscoll said. “The houses are very close together.”
Driscoll said local crews were assisted at the scene by firefighters from Berwick, Maine, Newington, Portsmouth, Rollinsford and Somersworth. He said firefighters from Pease, Rochester and South Berwick, Maine, provided station coverage.
As a result, Driscoll said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading further into the duplex. He added the occupants of the duplex were able to return home Wednesday morning.
He said firefighters remained at the scene until about 1:30 a.m.
Driscoll said the fire rendered the other home “uninhabitable” as it sustained extensive fire, heat and smoke damage. He said members of the American Red Cross are assisting the family, who stayed in a hotel.
Driscoll said the Broadway Street blaze is one of several suspicious fires in the city. He said investigators have not found any indication the fires are linked.
“Right now the connection is that they’re in the same area,” Driscoll said, adding police continue to investigate the issue.
Anyone with information about Tuesday's fire or any of the other blazes is encouraged to contact police at 742-4646. Anonymous tips may be left on the Dover Crimeline at 749-6000 or via www.dovernhcrimeline.org.
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