Eric Shearer
Eric Shearer

A Dover Township man is going to state prison for apparently causing a fire that badly damaged the mobile home he lived in with his mother.

But Eric Jason Shearer did not admit to arson.

Instead, he pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony count of criminal mischief. An arson charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Defendants who plead no contest aren't admitting guilt, but acknowledge they won't contest the charges against them.

Shearer, 33, was sentenced to two to four years in state prison. He also was ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation and comply with recommended treatment, court records state.

Shearer will be ordered to pay restitution, according to deputy prosecutor Jeff Rigby, who said the amount will be set after he hears back from the owner's insurance company.

Shearer must also serve a consecutive six months in prison for a probation violation, Rigby said.

The mobile home in the first block of Meadowview Lane in Dover Township is owned by Shearer's mother, Linda Holtzapple-Shearer, according to court documents.

Her trailer was extensively damaged by a blaze that started about 9:30 p.m. April 25, 2012, Northern York County Regional Police said.

'Excitable' at scene: Court documents indicate Shearer initially told police he dropped a lit cigarette onto a shirt while changing clothes, but couldn't put the fire out. He also told police the blaze started when he dropped a cigarette while putting on makeup, police said.

At the fire scene, Shearer held up his arms to be handcuffed and "was very excitable and acted as though he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs," court documents state.

A state police fire marshal determined there were two fires started inside the home that night -- one in a fiberglass shower stall and the other in a closet, documents state.

Shearer later called an arson investigator with his mother's insurance company and asked to be arrested, police said.

He also called an aunt he hadn't spoken to in years and told her "he needed an alibi for the fire," documents state.

'Rambled' to friend: One of Shearer's friends told investigators Shearer confessed to starting the fire and "rambled on" about using gasoline to start it, according to documents.

Rigby said he suspects intoxication and possible mental-health issues contributed to the fire being started.

He said he had a strong case for arson, but noted the plea agreement still required Shearer to accept a felony on his record and prison time.

"I think, at the end of the day, it was a fair result for everyone," Rigby said.

Shearer's mother strongly believed her son should be held accountable for his actions, the prosecutor said.

Shearer's defense attorney, public defender Mike Rutt, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.