(Photo courtesy of Foster's Daily Democrat)

Apr 28, 2015 6:40 PM

Alleged Dover arsonist let out on bail


DOVER - A city man who admitted to police that he started a fire at a residence while a woman and her four young children were inside was released on bail Tuesday, after a hearing at Strafford County Superior Court.

Shawn Hoyt, 20, of 8 Lincoln St., allegedly flicked a lit cigarette into Elizabeth Staehle's garage on April 22, 2014. As fire destroyed the house, Staehle and her children managed to escape with just the clothes on their backs.

All of their possessions were lost.

On Tuesday, public defender Sarah Landres pushed Judge Brian Tucker to allow for Hoyt's release from jail, where he was being held after it was determined that he was breaking bail conditions by failing to properly charge his GPS monitoring device. Landres said Hoyt has significant cognitive delays and is not a "typical criminal defendant."

She suggested problem-solving methods to ensure Hoyt's anklet is charged in the future. The device's battery only lasts for 12 hours.

Hoyt, Landres said, is scheduled to graduate from high school in June. She mentioned a special occasion planned for his graduation before asking Tucker if she could approach the bench.

After the hearing, County Attorney Thomas Velardi expressed disappointment with Tucker's decision to allow Hoyt to return to the neighborhood where he allegedly committed his crime. Hoyt will live with his mother, who has a residence not far from Staehle.

"We believe he continues to pose a potential risk to the community, but must accept the court's ruling," Velardi said.

Even though Hoyt will be on the highest level of supervision, including an active GPS and curfew, Velardi said prosecutors do not believe these are adequate conditions to ensure his good behavior. Part of the issue they have, Velardi said, is Hoyt is hard to monitor because of his failure to charge his device on a routine basis.

Hoyt apparently decided to destroy the house Staehle and her children live in randomly. After it was rebuilt, Staehle moved back in because she could not find anyplace else to stay.

In November, Staehle said she "kind of lost it" when she found out about Hoyt's initial release from custody.

The next court hearing for Hoyt is scheduled June 29.

  • Story Photo
    Shawn Hoyt
  • Story Thumbnail


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