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Man Sets Neighbor's House On Fire For Unkempt Lawn, Police Said

3:44 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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Cartersville, GA-- The Bartow County man accused of burning down a neighbor's house Wednesday morning has been captured.

Phillip Roger Bennett, 58, was taken into custody Thursday by U.S. Marshals in Murphy, NC. He is being extradited to Cartersville.

Cartersville Police Capt. Mark Camp said the suspect faces a number of charges, including arson, aggravated assault, criminal property damage, cruelty to children, second-degree burglary, reckless conduct, criminal trespass and terroristic threats.

Bennett went on the run after torching the house because, as the neighbor tells 11Alive News, the man was angry that the neighbor had not mowed his lawn -- the grass was too tall.

The neighbor, Marty Corbitt, and his three year old daughter, Kylie, were inside their home at 18 Boatner Ave. when he says Bennett "went complete psycho."

"The mean man burned my house," Kylie said to 11Alive's Jon Shirek as Marty held her in his arms outside their burned shell of a house.

Marty Corbitt says Bennett had been angry for about a week because of the over-grown, unkempt appearance of Corbitt's front yard. Corbitt says Bennett was cursing and yelling at him, and even slapped him.

"Slapped me across the face and said, 'Mow your grass,'" Corbitt says. "My grass was too tall for him. I was going to cut it today, and then he set my house on fire."

Corbitt and Bennett live across the street from each other.

Wednesday morning, when the wife and mom, Katie Corbitt, was at work, Marty Corbitt says Bennett walked over again, and this time threatened to kill him.

"He kicks my door, tells me I've got five seconds to come outside. I turn around and call 911. And while I'm on the phone he comes back with two gas cans in his hand. Walks up to my kitchen door again, takes a gas can, smashes it against the glass, breaks the first pane. Then he turns around and grabs a brick, throws it through the window. And then he grabs a gas can and starts pouring it into the kitchen. And as he's pouring he takes his lighter and lights it. And flames were everywhere. I ran back to my little girl's room, grabbed her, ran out the back door over to my neighbor's and watched the house burn."

Corbitt says he and his family have lived in the house, his grandmother's house, for about four years, and says Bennett has lived across the street for about that long.

"I honestly can't imagine what goes through someone's head to make them want to murder someone and their child over grass. He was actually a pretty good neighbor up until last week. And then he just went complete psycho."

"The mean man burned my house," Kylie said again.

Katie Corbitt fought back tears. "The fact that my little girl was in the house when he started that fire...."

The Corbitts are staying with relatives.

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