PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn will recommend charges against Michael R. Thompson, 22, of 676 Naces Run Road, Stout, be dropped.
“I will submit a dismissal to the court without prejudice, which means it could be brought back up to allow the state to finish their investigation,” Kuhn said.
“The Rules of Superintendents state that a case be indicted within 60 days. It’s not mandatory, but it is something we try to follow in this county. We’re right around 60 days now since he was arrested, and they are just not ready to bring the charges yet. And they are just about ready to bring the charges before the grand jury.”
Thompson was arrested by Forest Ranger Jerry Chapman Sunday, April 26, and charged with felony arson in connection with the wildfires that swept through Shawnee State Forest, back in April.
Forestry officials have said Thompson was the man who called in the report on the wildfire, but fled from them when they tried to confront him. They said he was apprehended on Mackletree Road and that he allegedly had accelerants on his person at the time.
Thompson waived his right to a scheduled May 1 preliminary hearing in Portsmouth Municipal Court and his case was bound over to the grand jury. He remains free on bond.
“They (charges) haven’t been (dropped) yet, because the judge will have to sign the dismissal,” Kuhn said, “I gave the Forestry (Division) another extension until last Friday to try to get the work together.”
Kuhn said he will send a letter to the Division of Forestry telling them what he needs.
“They have been in several times to meet with me,” Kuhn said. “They have a lot of work to do — both to show this is arson — and to show that he (Thompson) is the one who did it.”
The April fires blackened 2,870 acres, the worst forest fire in Ohio history.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.