GALLIPOLIS — Two men who were previously arraigned in the Gallia County Common Pleas Court for allegedly stealing a car from a local dealership were recently indicted on a charge of arson for allegedly attempting to burn down the same dealership.
Phillip S. Doss, 28, Gallipolis, and Kurtiss L. Groves, 36, Vinton, both pleaded not guilty late last week to fourth-degree felony arson charges after they allegedly started a small fire at Auto Buyers, located at 1627 Eastern Avenue, on June 16, 2013.
An investigation into this case began after an officer with the Gallipolis Police Department was alerted to a possible fire at the business at approximately 6 a.m. on June 16. Upon arriving on scene, the officer observed smoke coming out of the office building and noticed that the front door of the office was standing open.
After entering the building, the officer extinguished a portion of the fire that was contained to a wood stand up against a wall, while the remainder of the fire was extinguished by the Gallipolis Fire Department.
According to the police report, the officer later received information concerning the small fire and the possibility of a break-in that had occurred that morning at the business.
Doss, who was identified as a suspect in this case and subsequently arrested by a deputy with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, was transported to the Gallipolis Police Department later that day for questioning.
Doss reportedly told officers that he and Groves had made entry into the Auto Buyers’ office by breaking the glass out of the front door. He also reportedly admitted to locating a set of keys, taking several car titles from the office and lighting a piece of paper hanging on the wall before attempting to extinguish the fire with his shirt.
Doss and Groves then reportedly left the building, found the car that opened with the keys that had taken from the office, before taking the vehicle and traveling to Centenary to purchase gas for the car, a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am.
Indictments in relation to the break-in and theft of the vehicle were filed with the Gallia County Clerk of Courts Office in July, and Doss was later arrested on July 29 on a warrant on indictment.
Following his arraignment, in which he pleaded guilty to a fourth degree felony theft charge for allegedly stealing the vehicle, as well as a charge of breaking and entering, Doss was released on an own recognizance bond on August 1.
Groves was arrested on a warrant on indictment on August 1 and was also subsequently arraigned on a charge of theft and breaking and entering. He was also later released on an own recognizance bond.
Following an investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, new indictments against the pair outlining a charge of arson were filed with the clerk of courts on October 10.
Doss pleaded not guilty to the charge of arson during his arraignment on Friday. His bond was set at $10,000, own recognizance, and he was later released from the Gallia County Jail.
As a condition of his bond, he was ordered to have no contact with Auto Buyers.
A plea agreement in this case may be filed with the Clerk of Courts by January 20. A jury trial has been scheduled for February 20.
Groves was arraigned in his case on Thursday, also pleading not guilty to arson. A plea agreement in this case may be filed by January 13. A jury trial has been set for February 10.
Groves was later released from the Gallia County Jail on an own recognizance bond.