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Spring Hill fire bomber found guilty

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Published:   |   Updated: August 15, 2013 at 04:03 PM

BROOKSVILLE - A six-member jury has found Kraig Schoonover guilty of hurling Molotov cocktails at a Spring Hill home back in February.

Jurors heard testimony on Wednesday, and received their deliberation instructions first thing on Thursday morning. Jurors reached a decision around 10 a.m., and found Schoonover guilty of arson and discharging a destructive device.

Kraig Schoonover, 31, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Grant in Brevard County on March 4, a few days after throwing fire bombs at an occupance on Hanley Drive around 2 a.m. on Feb. 28.

An early morning argument the previous day set the events in motion, according to victims Valerie Spinale and Joel Powers, who testified on Wednesday.

Spinale said her doorbell rang around 7 a.m. on Feb. 27. When she answered, she saw Kraig Schoonover "acting kind of funny ... jumping up and down," and he asked where Spinale's sons Joel and Justin Powers were. Spinale said Schoonover was with his brother, Danny Schoonover.

As Schoonover advanced on Joel, a fight broke out. Spinale said she ran to her room to retrieve a pink stun gun, which she eventually used on Schoonover to break up the fight. Schoonover jumped back in his vehicle, quickly backing up like he wanted to run them over, initially forgetting his brother and then leaving.

The threatening phone calls started in the hours that followed and lasted through the day.

"I heard Kraig's voice, I have to use bad language ... he said tell that (expletive) sucking mother she's going to be dead tonight."

Powers said the arguments stemmed from a woman named Amanda Lawson, Justin Powers' on- and off-again girlfriend. Lawson was staying in the Hanley Drive home, and both Spinale and Powers said she was in the backseat of Schoonover's car during the morning fight.

Spinale said she went to bed around midnight, waking up around 2 a.m.

"I woke up to what sounded like an explosion in my window," Spinale said. "I knew it was them, they're back."

Spinale's screams woke up the rest of the house, according to Powers, and the family hid in a closet along with their dog. Powers sat within sight of the front door, with a 12 gauge pointed at it.

Spinale said as the smoke thickened, she told Powers to start shooting at the door.

"We couldn't breathe, we needed to get out," Spinale said

Powers said after shooting several holes in the door, he opened the front door to get the family out.

"I wish I did hit one of them," Powers testified.

Investigators later found six Bud Light bottles used as Molotov cocktails. Hernando County Sheriff's Office Forensic Specialist Angelique Lees told jurors none of the bottles has Schoonover's fingerprints on them, explaining high temperatures can destroy fingerprints.

Schoonover's appearance was called into question during the trial. Powers was at first unable to identify Schoonover from the witness stand, later telling Hernando Today Schoonover was a "skin head" with Aryan Brotherhood tattoos at the time of the attack, but in court had a full head of hair, had put on weight, covered up his tattoos with makeup and wore glasses.

"I would have thought he was another attorney," Powers said.

Powers was later given the opportunity to identify Schoonover by his booking mugshot.

"I see him but he looks different," said Det. Randy Williamson, when asked to identify the defendant.

Amanda Lawson had no problem identifying Schoonover. Lawson, who is in custody on unrelated charges, testified in an orange jumpsuit.

Lawson said she called Kraig Schoonover to pick her up at the Hanley Drive home on Feb. 27 because she had gotten into a "fistfight" with Justin Powers.

Lawson said she called Schoonover because she had his number memorized, and she offered to buy him food. Later in the day, Schoonover asked Lawson if she'd be "loyal" to him and help him get back at Spinale. Lawson said she didn't agree to help him out, that she didn't want to "fight an old lady," but later in the day drew a floor plan of the house for Schoonover, and told him where Spinale slept.

Schoonover did not testify in his own defense. During closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Michael Conageski said Schoonover was out for "revenge" against Spinale, who weighed half as much as him and used her stun gun on him.

"It bruised his pride," Conageski said.

Schoonover's defense attorney, Laura Drake, asked jurors to consider the credibility of the state's witnesses, many of whom had been convicted of crimes in the past, as well as the lack of eye witnesses and missing prints on the beer bottles used as Molotov cocktails.

Schoonover has remained in the Hernando County Jail on $120,000 bond awaiting trial. He will be sentenced on Sept. 16, and faces between 30 and 60 years in prison. Schoonover is a convicted felon, and has been found guilty of fraud, driving with a suspended license, retail theft, sale of a controlled substance and battery in the past.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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