Man found guilty in arson

A rural Bellevue man was found guilty Tuesday of aggravated arson, felonious assault and abduction for a fire and standoff that occurred at his home in September.

Lloyd V. Hicks, 73, who was indicted last year on two counts of felonious assault, a first-degree felony, and one count each of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, and abduction, a third-degree felony, was found guilty by a jury Tuesday afternoon of all four counts following a two-day trial.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Seneca County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Boos said Hicks had set his North CR 29 home on fire after first assaulting his wife and attempting to drag her back into the home when she tried to leave. After kicking Hicks multiple times, Hicks’ wife was able to free herself and leave the residence. She then drove to work, where she called police, Boos said.

After Hicks’ wife left the residence, neighbors reported they could see flames coming from the residence. One neighbor even ran to help Hicks, who was in the backyard, but Hicks told the neighbor to leave, Boos said.

Boos said when firefighters and law enforcement arrived, Hicks still was in the backyard with a gun. Hicks then shot at three law enforcement officers who tried to approach him.

“If it wasn’t him who started the fire, then why didn’t he let them put it out?” Boos said during his closing argument. “Instead he sits with a gun and shoots at them when they’re trying to approach him.”

Boos also said Hicks later told a detective that when his wife left the residence after their fight, he got “highly strung out and very angry” and that she wouldn’t have known about the fire because she had left.

Hicks also had reportedly threatened his wife previously that he was going to burn down the house because he didn’t want her to have it.

“He wanted to leave his wife with nothing and he accomplished that goal,” Boos said.

He said Hicks had burned hair on his arm and scalp following fire and shell casings were found in the backyard, where Hicks had been during the standoff.

The fire was dangerous for firefighters, Boos said Tuesday, because a 500-gallon propane tank was near the house and the basement was full of ammunition. Neighbors were evacuated and the road was closed while the house burned.

“Had that tank exploded, that could have been catastrophic. It was an extraordinary risk with the propane tank and ammunition,” Boos said.

Hicks’ attorney, Jonathan Stotzer, told the jury during his closing argument Tuesday that there was no information presented during the trial that Hicks set the fire.

Stotzer said that while Hicks was in the backyard, he was trying to keep neighbors and law enforcement away from the house because he knew the propane tank and ammunition were dangers. Stotzer said the shots were warning shots and were not fired directly at law enforcement.

“Trying to keep people away in a mentally distraught state would not be an unreasonable behavior,” Stotzer said.

He said it also wasn’t known if Hicks called 911 to report the fire.

Hicks is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. today in Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Shuff’s courtroom.