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Accused Arsonist to Appear in Court Friday

Status conference is scheduled to take place in Somerset County Superior Court.

Accused Arsonist to Appear in Court Friday

The Zion Road man who was indicted for allegedly setting fire to a historic barn on Amwell Road in March is due in Somerset County Superior Court on Friday morning.

Curtis Westover, 69, is scheduled to appear before Judge Julie Marino for a 9 a.m. status conference.

The conference comes about a month after Westover was denied entry into the state’s pre-trial intervention program which, if completed successfully, would have led to the dismissal of the second-degree aggravated arson charge.

Westover’s application for PTI was rejected Aug. 23 by Elizabeth Lipari, the director of Somerset County's PTI program. According to court papers, Westover’s application was rejected based on the nature of the charge.

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office agreed with Lipari’s decision. Assistant Prosecutor Frank Kolozieski wrote in a letter that despite Westover’s age and his lack of a previous record, the case was “outrageous” and “worthy” of a traditional prosecution.

Westover, now free on $50,000 bail, has been indicted on a charge of setting fire to an unoccupied barn on Amwell Road in Neshanic on March 18 at about 7:30 a.m., according to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

John Lazorchak, chief of the Neshanic Fire Co., owned the building and the adjacent JML Landscaping. Lazorchak had been trying to  demolish the structure and build a 6,700-square-foot office building but was involved in a legal fight with the zoning board of adjustment over the plan.

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