Thursday, March 30, 2000

Morrow man guilty of setting bar fire

Enquirer Contributor

        LEBANON — A Morrow man on Wednesday was convicted on felony charges of breaking into the bar where his girlfriend worked and burning it down.

        Grady Gilkerson was found not guilty of a second count of breaking and entering and theft.

        He could get up to 30 months in prison when he is sentenced on April 7, said Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Duvelius. The jury deliberated just over two hours.

        “I'm very happy,” she said. “The arson was our big one. That was the most important charge.”

        Mr. Gilkerson was charged with the 1999 burning of the Rolling Hills Lounge near Morrow. The blaze destroyed the bar, but there were no injuries.

        Prosecutors claimed Mr. Gilkerson set the blaze because he was angry about his girlfriend, Linda, a longtime bartender at Rolling Hills, being so committed to her job and customers. The couple have since married.

        Clara Hartmann, now 83, and her late husband opened the lounge nearly 30 years ago. It was being managed by her grandson, Daryl Hartmann, at the time of the fire.

        More than a dozen Hartmann family members and friends, including Mrs. Hartmann, mingled outside the courtroom awaiting the jury's verdict.

        The family, which hopes to rebuild the bar, clapped and jeered as Mr. Gilkerson was led away in handcuffs.


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