SKOWHEGAN — Two brothers from Waterville have been indicted by a Somerset County grand jury on one count each of felony arson for allegedly torching a car with a Molotov cocktail June 9 in Madison in apparent retaliation over a marijuana dispute.

Alexis Casey, 25, and his brother Zachary Casey, 22, both of Hathaway Street, Waterville, are charged with Class A felony counts of arson punishable by up to 30 years in prison if they are convicted.

Shawn Casey, the brothers’ uncle and manager of Casey’s Market in Anson, which is owned by their father, Al, said the boys are scared and the family is in shock over the charges.

“I can’t believe they did something so totally stupid. It’s crazy. I was shocked,” Shawn Casey said by phone Monday. “They’re a couple of good kids … I think they’re scared out of their wits right now.”

The brothers were arrested Oct. 11 on a warrant based on a court affidavit filed by the Office of State Fire Marshal. They were released on $1,000 cash bail from the Somerset County Jail in East Madison the following day, according to a jail intake worker.

They are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment in Skowhegan at 1 p.m. Nov. 9. It is unclear if the brothers will be tried separately or together or if they have lawyers yet.

The court affidavit filed Oct. 11 by investigator Jeremy Damren of the Fire Marshal’s Office alleges the brothers wanted to get revenge on Michael Nichols, 27, of Madison, whom they believed had stolen marijuana plants from a legal grow operation. The car that was destroyed, a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, was owned by Nichols’ girlfriend, Sara Cookson, 25, according to the court document. The car was parked at Cookson’s home at 8 Middle St., Madison, according to the affidavit.

When the car was set ablaze, it was about 5 feet from an occupied three-unit apartment house, according to the court document. Firefighters managed to save the house.

The brothers allegedly obtained an empty 40-once Hurricane beer bottle, filled it with gasoline and, after breaking a car window with a rock, tossed the bottle inside, burning the car completely. They used an old sock as a wick for the fire bomb, according to the affidavit.

Investigators found the empty beer bottle that smelled of gasoline, a Bic lighter and a rock that they say broke the window of the car. The car was owned by Cookson, but the target was Nichols.

Nichols is out on bail for burglaries charges, but he has not been charged in connection with the alleged arson case, according to the investigator’s affidavit. Nichols was charged in March with several burglaries in which a Chevy Cobalt reportedly was used as a getaway car.

Nichols, who was arrested in December, is facing additional charges of burglary and theft after police recovered items stolen from homes in Starks at a home in Norridgewock in March. Nichols was first arrested Dec.19 after he was allegedly caught burglarizing a neighbor’s garage on Redneck Road in Starks. The residents of the home confronted him at the scene and convinced him to give back their property before he fled in a blue Chevrolet Cobalt, police said.

They then called the police, and the sheriff’s office was able to track Nichols down in the Cobalt. He admitted to the burglary, police said.

Nichols remains out on bail pending his next court appearance. He had his first court appearance March16 and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond through the Somerset County Jail’s pre-trial program.

According to court documents in Skowhegan, a new plea offer has been worked out with Nichols, and he is scheduled to appear on the regular docket call on Nov. 7.

A month before the fire, Zachary Casey reportedly told people at a party they all had attended in Highland Plantation that he was angry at Nichols for stealing what he thought was about $2,000 worth of marijuana plants, and “he was going to burn (Nichols’) car with a Molotov cocktail,” according to the affidavit.

In interviews with the fire marshal’s office as the investigation continued into October, Alexis Casey initially said he had no knowledge of the fire but later recanted, saying he had lied about their involvement to protect his brother, the affidavit states. He later told investigators that his brother had been drinking and that he — Alexis — broke the car window with a rock and Zachary lit the bottle with a piece of cloth, the affidavit states. They had driven from Waterville to their father’s house in Madison, where they got the gasoline, according to the document.

Zachary later said the same thing, telling the investigators that it was his idea to torch the car, not his brother’s.

Philip Mohlar, their lawyer of the day in October, told the judge that the brothers are not a flight risk. He said both attended Madison Area High School, that they have many family members in the area and that their father runs a market in Anson.

Under conditions of release, the Casey brothers must abide by a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., they must not possess alcohol or illegal drugs and they must have no contact with the people involved in the alleged arson. A judge in October during the brothers’ initial appearance also imposed a condition that they not possess incendiary devices, including matches and cigarette lighters.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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