5 charged in Md. arsons plead not guilty

/ Source: The Associated Press

Five of six suspects pleaded not guilty Wednesday to arson fires that destroyed and damaged homes in an upscale suburban development, causing $10 million in damage.

Lawyers for the men — Michael Everhart, Roy McCann, Jeremy Parady, Aaron Speed and Patrick Walsh — entered the pleas before Magistrate Judge Charles Day. They are also charged with conspiracy and aiding and abetting for allegedly carrying out the fires.

A sixth suspect charged with arson, Michael Gilbert, has not yet been indicted.

Prosecutors believe the men drove to the development Dec. 6, poured chemicals in homes that were under construction and torched them. Ten houses were destroyed, and 16 were damaged.

The men allegedly were all part of a group known as “the family” and had a mutual interest in street racing. Prosecutors claim that the group, led by Walsh, plotted the fires as far back as August. Speed worked as a private security guard at the development.

No clear motive has emerged. Court filings suggest that Walsh hoped to make a name for the group. Revenge also is a possibility: Speed was angry at his employer, and Parady was rejected by the builder for a job, according to prosecutors.

Trial dates also were set, with the first for Walsh on May 31.