An accused arsonist made his first appearance Friday in Huron County Common Pleas Court.
Elliot J.M. Shepherd II, 27, of 2678 Jennings Road, New London, is charged with one count each of arson, grand theft of a motor vehicle, theft and burglary. He entered "not guilty" pleas to each of the felonies Friday and was given a trial date of June 24.
"He allegedly stole his ex-father-in-law's truck and torched it -- along with a fancy welder," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
Shepherd, who earlier posted a $10,000 bond, is prohibited from having any association with the male victim and must stay off a Cook Road, New London, property. Judge Jim Conway warned the defendant that the no-association order means there's no contact by email, writing letters, social media or third parties.
Defense attorney Ed Rhode said his client has been seeing a mental health professional "who has been a tremendous help to him."
"He's in his sixth week of sobriety," Rhode added.
Shepherd's charges are in connection with a Dec. 28 incident involving a male victim's 2012 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The Huron County Sheriff's Office recovered the truck about eight or nine hours after the suspected theft and arson.
In late October, Detective Sgt. Bill Duncan arrested Shepherd on an allegation he solicited sex from an Ashland County girl who is now 14. The suspect was charged with importuning, a fifth-degree felony punishable by six to 12 months behind bars.
"He admitted the victim's allegations were true. His description of their relationship with the victim is quite disturbing and in stark contrast to her feelings," Duncan said.
"He described their relationship (as what) two adults would have and she's a 14-year-old kid. His relationship was light years from what she said."
Shepherd, who doesn't have any prior felony convictions, is prohibited from having any direct or indirect association with any non-family members who are younger than 18, according to Duncan and court records.
On Nov. 13, Norwalk Municipal Court Judge Eric Weisenburger transferred the importuning case to common pleas court for review by a grand jury.