Centre County Judge Pamela Ruest entered an order on Friday that denied a motion from Timothy Penrod to separate his arson cases from the vandalism.
Penrod is charged with the late night fires set at two Orchard Park area homes on May 18. He was charged separately for the two cases.
In one, he faces arson, criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges for torching a wooden shed in the backyard of 712 Windsor Court and for destroying $10,000 in property.
In the other, he’s charged with two counts of arson plus reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for squirting lighter fluid on porch furniture and the home at 1037 Bayberry Drive before lighting it up as well.
Defense motions argued that the arson cases could be heard together because of the similar nature of the alleged crimes, and the fact that they occurred on the same day. But, they argued, the charges of 15 counts each of institutional vandalism, desecration of venerated objects and criminal mischief, as well as burglary, criminal trespass and insults to the national flag for the Memorial Day night incident at Pine Hall Cemetery should be severed — meaning two separate trials.
Prosecutors opposed the effort, claiming the three incidents constitute a crime spree. The events occurred seven days apart, but court records point to a break due to outside circumstances. Penrod, who was a resident of a Strawberry Fields community rehabilitation services near the bike path that trailed close to the two arson sites, was committed to the Meadows psychiatric facility shortly after returning to the residence at 11:45 p.m. May 18. He was released May 25, the day before the cemetery vandalism.
Ruest agreed with the prosecution.
“The court agrees with the commonwealth that these incidents together constitute a crime spree and are therefore the same transaction,” the judge said in her order. “Further the court believes that the evidence of each of the offenses would be admissible in a separate trial to prove state of mind and absence of mistake and is capable of separation by the jury so that there is no danger of confusion.”
Penrod remains in Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 monetary bail. His next court appearance is due to be a pre-trial conference on Sept. 18.