SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Three years after a fire ripped through a home in North Anson, a second person charged in the September 2008 arson has been brought to court.
Mary Hoskins, 50, of North Anson appeared in Somerset County Superior Court for a bail hearing on a Class A charge of arson. Superior Court Justice John Nivison set the bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 surety.
Hoskins is accused in connection with a fire set to the Embden Pond Road home of her son, Neal Hoskins, with whom she was living with, in September 2008 to collect insurance money. The mobile home was burned again on Jan. 28, 2009. No one was living at the home after the initial fire.
Neal Hoskins pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to the 2008 fire and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended and four years probation.
Mary Hoskins’ bail was the subject of debate between her attorney, Andrew Ketterer, and Nivison. Ketterer argued that Hoskins could not pay the bail unless it was significantly reduced. He also said that because Hoskins has ovarian cancer, holding in her jail “certainly amounts to a life sentence for her.”
Ketterer told the judge that Hoskins is in the final terminal stages of cancer.
“I did submit a letter [to the court] from a treating physician, who indicated that Mary probably has six to maybe 12 months left to live,” Ketterer said outside the courtroom.
Nivison wouldn’t waver on the amount of bail, but did make a concession.
Hoskins will “get the necessary treatment for her without any unnecessary burden to the state,” said Nivison.
“We respected the judge’s decision. It was a reasonable decision,” said Ketterer.
Because Hoskins fled the state after learning of her arrest warrant last month, Nivison said he was unwilling to lower the bail.
According to Somerset County Assistant District Attorney Brent Davis, Hoskins was stopped recently by state police in New Hampshire, where she was driving a vehicle with Minnesota plates and gave the name Mary Adler. She told the officers she was visiting relatives in Maine before returning home to Minnesota.
After police saw that the Maine inspection sticker on her vehicle came back to Mary Hoskins, she was detained and returned to Maine on Thursday.
“That’s why the state is asking for a high bail,” said Davis.
Ketterer argued that Hoskins had many opportunities to flee, but didn’t until recently.
“She had a five-month head start and didn’t take it,” said Ketterer. “She’s at the end of her life. She was scared.”
After Tuesday’s court hearing, Hoskins sat down, laid her head on the bench in front of her and cried.
In a court affidavit in the Neal Hoskins case, investigator Edward Hastings of the State Fire Marshal’s Office stated that the fires appeared to be arson.
Hastings said in the affidavit that “Neal Hoskins was the only named insured, though clearly Mary took an active role in contacting the insurance company and coaching Neal as to what needed to be said regarding the ongoing claim with the fires.”
Hastings pointed to the fact that Mary Hoskins’ dogs and a framed picture of her now deceased husband, Paul, were taken from the home before the 2008 fire.
A search warrant for the picture was executed on March 24. It was found hanging on the wall of the computer room in her current North Anson residence.
“When asked about this photo, Mary stated it was a duplicate, which she obtained from a relative a few months ago,” Hastings said in the same affidavit. “Mary refused to provide the name of this relative.”
Mary Hoskins was convicted of arson in 1998 for a fire to her home in Salem that she shared with her husband.
No affidavits for Mary Hoskins were immediately available. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9.