Trooper: Accused arsonist was motivated to get rid of ‘eyesore'
PITTSFIELD -- A state trooper testified Tuesday that a Chicopee man accused of setting more than a dozen fires in South County did so to get rid of things he considered unsightly.
During a hearing Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court, Stuart P. Zebrowski, 54, showed little emotion as State Police Trooper Michael Mazza, an investigator for the state fire marshal's office, described the alleged arson and burglary spree.
While making local deliveries for a Springfield-based linen service, Zebrowski is accused of setting four empty buildings on fire, starting 15 brush fires, and breaking into homes from 2009 until April. Zebrowski has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges.
One of the fires included a building behind Guido's Fresh Mar ketplace on Main Street in Great Barrington in March.
"He thought it was dilapidated an eyesore," said the trooper.
Zebrowski allegedly watched the building burn and then returned to the scene after the building was razed.
"People in the community should thank me," Zebrowski allegedly told the trooper about burning the building down.
That fire, said Mazza, could have burned several nearby buildings. A Big Y grocery store, located close by, had to close for the day because of smoke, said the trooper.
Zebrowski also allegedly set brush fires throughout South County and broke into houses along his delivery route. Mazza said that Zebrowski told him he broke into the homes "out of curiosity," but didn't intend to harm anyone.
While in the homes Zebrowski allegedly stole various items, including a chain saw, push broom and an item listed as "a pink rock."
"He told me he knew he would eventually be arrested, but he couldn't stop himself," said Mazza.
On Tuesday, Mazza told the court that Zebrowski admitted to the crimes in an interview after his arrest.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Zebrowski was found to be a danger to the community. Judge Daniel A. Ford ordered Zebrowski held for 90 days without bail.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Marianne Shelvey requested the hearing. Citing the present accusations, as well as Zebrowski's previous criminal record, Shelvey said there was no way to keep the community safe other than to hold Zebrowski without bail.
According to Shelvey, Zebrowski was sentenced to nine to 14 years in prison for two rape convictions. The case was in Hamden Superior Court in 1984.
Zebrowski's attorney, Richard D. LeBlanc, argued the crimes for which his client is charged don't fall under those that could be considered under the dangerousness statute. LeBlanc had asked that Zebrowski be given bail with the condition that he wear a GPS monitoring device.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 7. No trial date has been set yet.