SKOWHEGAN — Two brothers accused using a Molotov cocktail to set fire to a car entered separate pleas of not guilty Wednesday to felony arson charges.

Alexis Casey, 25, and his brother Zachary Casey, 22, of Hathaway Street, Waterville, are charged with class A arson, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine if they are convicted. They allegedly torched the car in June in Madison as retaliation for perceived theft of marijuana plants.

The brothers went to Madison Area High School and their family owns Casey’s Market in Anson.

Alexis Casey is represented by lawyer Peter Barnett, of Bingham, who was appointed by the court. Zachary Casey is represented by Skowhegan attorney John Martin, who also was appointed by the court. Both appeared separately Tuesday before District Court Judge Andrew Benson.

Bail was continued at $1,000 cash for each, with a dispositional conference set for Nov. 30.

It is still uncertain if the brothers will be tried separately or together. 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, according to a court affidavit about their arrest. He later told investigators that his brother had been drinking and that he, Alexis, broke the car window with a rock and Zachary lit a bottle of gasoline 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 court document.

The pair were arrested Oct. 11 on a warrant based on a court affidavit filed by Jeremy Damren, an investigator with the Office of State Fire Marshal. They were indicted by a Somerset County grand jury at the end of October.

The affidavit alleges the brothers wanted to get even with a man they believed had stolen marijuana plants from a legal grow operation. They 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, which smelled of gasoline; a Bic lighter; and a rock that they say broke the window of the car, a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt.

The car was owned by Sara Cookson, 25, of Madison, but the supposed target was her boyfriend, Mike Nichols, 28, of Madison, who is out on bail after burglary and theft convictions earlier this week, but who has not been charged with anything in connection with the alleged arson or the marijuana theft. The car, a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, was destroyed. It had been used in some of the burglaries Nichols pleaded guilty to Monday.

Madison firefighters extinguished the fire before it could spread to a nearby three-unit apartment house, where all of the occupants were inside sleeping about 3:30 a.m. June 9. The car was 5 feet away from the building.

The car was parked at Cookson’s home at 8 Middle St., Madison, according to the affidavit.

On Monday, Nichols was sentenced to serve eight months of a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in Somerset County Superior Court to five counts of felony burglary and seven counts of misdemeanor theft. He denied having stolen the marijuana plants, saying that the Casey brothers now know who did.

Justice Robert Mullen said he would postpone Nichols’ prison term until Feb. 7 so Nichols can finish treatment for heroin addiction at a methadone clinic in Waterville.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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