Pa. Man Charged in Fatal Mercer County Hotel Arson

August 22, 2007

A man who just finished nearly two years in prison for an Ohio burglary was charged with burglarizing a Pennsylvania hotel and setting a fire that killed a man staying there.

Michael Watson, 42, was arraigned Monday, Aug. 20 on second-degree murder, arson, burglary and other charges in the fire that destroyed the O.C. Hotel and Cantina in Otter Creek Township in August 2005.

James Hall, 48, who rented a room at the Mercer County hotel, died of smoke inhalation.

State police discovered while investigating the fire that someone broke into a safe containing about $1,400 before the fire was set. They also traced an emergency call about the fire to Watson’s cell phone, police said.

Watson was jailed without bond pending a preliminary hearing on Aug. 27.

Three days after the hotel fire, Watson was arrested in Ohio on charges that he burglarized a home trailer in Ashtabula in January 2004. He pleaded guilty in September 2005 was sentenced to two years in prison on those charges.

Watson was on probation for allegedly burglarizing three Mercer County businesses when the hotel fire was set.

It was not immediately clear if Watson had an attorney for the hotel arson charges.

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