Trial Date for Student Arson Threat Postponed Again

By Abby Wargo 
News Editor

The court date for a Washington College student being tried for threat to commit arson has been postponed for a second time.

Steven McDonnell, 21, was charged in December after he allegedly threatened to set fire to another student’s home.

The Elm is not identifying complainants.

McDonnell was originally to be tried on Wednesday, March 21, but his case was transferred from district to circuit court. A date was not set at press time Monday.

According to Maryland Courts, a jury trial is held in circuit court. Circuit courts typically handle more serious criminal cases and major civil cases.

In January, McDonnell’s trial date was pushed back the first time to align with the arrival of a visiting judge because sitting judge, John E. Nunn III, recused himself from the case after presiding over three previous rulings involving complaints against McDonnell, according to a Jan. 24 Kent County News article.

If convicted, McDonnell could face a 10-year sentence and up to $10,000 in fines, according to Lt. John Dolgos of the Chestertown Police Department.

In December, Nunn granted peace orders to two WC professors threatened by McDonnell. The peace orders state that McDonnell cannot contact either of the professors or their families for six months. He is not allowed at the College, the professors’ homes, or the school of one of the professor’s children, according to the ruling.

One professor said that McDonnell had threatened her and her children in front of other WC students, according to court records.

After a three-hour hearing Wednesday, Dec. 13, Nunn granted the first peace order, according to The Kent County News. McDonnell attended, but did not speak.

The second peace order was granted Friday, Dec. 22 to another professor.

McDonnell was arrested around midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 5 after three students reported him to the Department of Public Safety.

Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick said, “The information coming from these students involved very serious threats to the Washington College community. We mobilized a group of resources to start dealing with the situation that was unfolding.”

Around 9 p.m. that evening, a warrant was issued for his arrest by the Chestertown Police Department after the threats were rendered credible, Roderick said.

The Chestertown Police and Public Safety then put together a safety plan for the campus and began searching for McDonnell. His car was found adjacent to campus at 11:30 p.m., and at 11:45 p.m., Chestertown Police officers and Public Safety located McDonnell inside Miller Library and took him into custody. He was released from custody the following day after posting $500 cash bond.

McDonnell is prohibited from coming onto campus and has been sent back to his home state, according to an email from Roderick.

Brooke Schultz, editor-in-chief, contributed to this report.


One thought on “Trial Date for Student Arson Threat Postponed Again

  1. What a shame that he lack of common sense . I remember how he told me that he wanted to either work for the UN or go to law school or medical school, but with his act that’ll get him possibly convicted,he won’t have that opportunity.

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