By Joe Beck
WOODSTOCK - A Strasburg man will serve a year in jail after pleading guilty to two attempted arson-related counts Monday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.
The pleas by Boyd Allen Hockman, 61, of 720 Clary Road, stemmed from a case in which he attempted to set fire to a house occupied by a man, a woman and the woman's 8-year-old son on Dec. 6 at 775 Cedar Creek Road in Star Tannery. Four other charges were dropped by the prosecution in earlier proceedings.
Hockman received a total of eight years in prison, seven of them suspended. He was also sentenced to five years of probation, three of them supervised and two of them unsupervised.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ilona White told Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp that Hockman called Rhoda Lynn Artz at Artz's house on Dec. 6 and threatened to burn it down.
"She further explained that her 8-year-old son was upstairs at the time the threat was made," White said of Artz.
Hockman later appeared at Artz's house and pounded the door with an ax, poured gasoline onto it and also dumped gasoline on two cars in the driveway before driving off, White said.
Authorities also said a man in the house, Dorian Triplett, told them he had seen Hockman attempting to light a match near the poured gasoline.
White said a deputy who later interviewed Hockman said the defendant claimed he had been pouring water at the Artz residence, a story the deputy found unpersuasive.
"(The deputy) could smell the odor of gasoline on his person," White said, referring to Hockman.
White said Hockman contended the smell came from accidentally spilling gasoline on himself earlier in the day.
White said Triplett's death since the incident contributed to the decision not to seek a tougher sentence or additional convictions against Hockman.
"We took into account a key part of our evidence we would not have been able to present because the witness had passed away," White told Hupp.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com