Man testifies arcade owner paid him to torch business
A McDonald man testified that he set a fire at a Peters Township video arcade after the owner offered him money and future employment if he would burn the building.
George Charles Klezia IV, 19, of Highland Drive waived his right to a preliminary hearing on a variety of arson charges Wednesday before District Justice Marjorie Lee Teagarden in Washington County Central Court.
Klezia then testified at a preliminary hearing for Jeffrey Scott Starr, owner of The Starrcade Inc., a business that he opened about nine months ago in a former Pizza Hut building at Route 19 and McMurray Road.
Peters Township police have charged Starr, 32, of Broadway Street, Wexford, and Klezia with arson that placed people in danger of death or bodily injury, arson to collect an insurance settlement, conspiracy to commit arson and reckless endangerment in connection with a Feb. 6 fire that destroyed the business.
Klezia testified that he brought a half-gallon of gasoline in a plastic bottle to the arcade at 3:30 that morning. He poured the gasoline over a wooden sill above a door and around the wooden door frame, then lit a rag soaked with gasoline and tossed it at the door frame before he ran away.
Starr promised Klezia a job at a new business that Starr intended to build, Klezia testified, and he promised that Klezia's amateur band would be able to play there. Starr said he intended to use the insurance money from The Starrcade to start the new venture, Klezia said.
Starr, through Mark F. Morrison, his attorney, pleaded not guilty to all charges. Morrison asked that the reckless endangerment charge be dismissed, but Teagarden held all the charges against Starr for court.
Morrison said because the case is about "who is telling the truth," he "fully intends to have a jury trial. Any time credibility is an issue, a jury needs to decide."
Klezia's attorney, Kevin Zinski, said of his client, "He obviously made a mistake … he did something stupid. He'll do the right thing from here on in."
Washington County Assistant District Attorney Joe Schwerha said he was very thankful for a very good investigation by Peters police Det. Sgt. Gary Orosz and Trooper Charles Frey, state police fire marshal.
Also, he thanked the firefighters.
"It's sad that people have to put their lives at risk in situations like this, and I'm glad there are crimes to address them," Schwerha said. No firefighters were hurt at the fire scene.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Confident rookie quarterback Manziel erratic early with Browns
- Steelers hope group of low-budget cornerbacks can deliver
- Steelers WR Wheaton wants to produce after injury-plagued rookie year
- Steelers notebook: Ben believes rookie WR Bryant can contribute
- Inside the ropes: Roethlisberger may have his big receiver
- Business Gallery: July 27, 2014
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle, Huntington on same page
- Construction of $500M power plant in South Huntingdon stalled
- Local golf notebook: Fox Chapel graduate to play in Junior PGA event
- Observers mixed on grid backup amid carbon rules, natural gas uncertainty