By Abby Wargo
The court date for a Washington College student being tried for threatening to commit arson has been moved to March.
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.
The original trial date was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 24, but was pushed back to March 21.
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.
According to The Kent County News, McDonnell’s trial was rescheduled to align with the arrival of a visiting judge, and to ensure that WC students acting as witnesses would be on campus during the trial.
The College’s spring break will take place from March 12 to 16, and students will return to classes on March 19.
The residing judge, John E. Nunn III, recused himself from the case after McDonnell’s attorney, Tom Yeager, requested a new court date or a judge change for the trial. Nunn presided over three previous rulings involving complaints against McDonnell.
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.