Accused Shamokin arsonist to serve at least six years
SUNBURY - An accused arsonist will spend at least six years in state prison under an agreement reached Monday afternoon during a pre-trial conference before the county president judge.
James L. Neidlinger Jr. is scheduled to enter a plea Friday morning.
After a conference in Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest chambers, county conflicts counsel John Broda, who serves as Neidlinger's attorney, and assistant district attorney Michael Toomey confirmed an agreement has been reached that calls for the defendant to plead guilty or no contest to three felony counts of arson.
The counts are arson involving bodily injury to a firefighter, arson involving the danger of bodily injury and arson involving an unoccupied building.
All other charges in the case will not be prosecuted.
Toomey said Neidlinger is facing a state prison sentence between 36 and 48 months and five years consecutive probation on the arson-related offenses. He also must serve a 3 1/2 to 7-year sentence imposed by Wiest last year for having his supervision revoked after committing the arson offenses. Neidlinger was on supervision after pleading guilty in a forgery case in Shamokin prior to the arsons.
Toomey said a psychiatric evaluation performed on Neidlinger determined he is competent to stand trial. Last month, Wiest agreed to separate the arson cases.
Neidlinger, 22, of Shamokin, who has been incarcerated since Jan. 29, 2013, at Northumberland County Prison in lieu of $250,000 cash bail, is charged by Shamokin Patrolman and Fire Investigator Raymond Siko II with intentionally setting fires at 717 N. Shamokin St. Sept. 5, 2012, the former Hardshell Cafe and an adjacent building in the 400 block of North Shamokin Street Jan. 24, 2013, and a triple home in the 600 block of East Sunbury Street near Franklin Street Jan. 28, 2013.
In a case involving another city fire, Kevin Kish, 51, of Shamokin, reiterated that he plans to fight charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and burglary at trial.
Kish, who is represented by county special conflicts counsel Sue Schwartz, also attended a pre-trial conference Monday afternoon before Wiest.
He was charged with the offenses by Shamokin Patrolman and Fire Investigator Raymond Siko II in connection with a Jan. 24, 2013, fire at a vacant building at 725 N. Shamokin St., Shamokin, which is located across the street from where he lived at the time. He was not charged with arson because he allegedly didn't intentionally set the fire, which was ignited by a lit cigarette, police said.
He also is charged by Shamokin Cpl. Darwin Tobias III with two counts each of burglary, criminal trespass and criminal conspiracy and one count of loitering and prowling at night in connection with a Feb. 5, 2013, break-in at Nature's Health Food Store, 133-135 E. Independence St.