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Man Burns Down Girlfriend’s Apartment After Break Up

Steven Somerville, 52, of Bushwick Brooklyn was sentenced to 27 to 29 years in prison after a Queens jury convicted him of arson and stalking the victim. Prosecutors said the married Somerville became obsessed with his girlfriend who worked at the same job as him. When the relationship ended Somerville started terrorizing the victim.

Prosecutors said Somerville capped a three-day period of stalking and terrorizing the victim by torching her Forest Hills apartment where his girlfriend lived with her three children.

During the trial, prosecutors said Somerville entered the victim’s apartment at 4 am on December 7. He dragged two mattresses out of the bedroom and piled them in the living room. He then threw clothing and household items atop the mattresses. Somerville then set the pile on fire, locked the front door and slipped out the window.

At trial, prosecutors introduced photos of the charred apartment with the remains of burnt clothing and mattresses scattered across the floor.

Fortunately the victim had not been home. Prosecutors said once Somerville began threatening her she fled the apartment with her children and went to a domestic violence shelter.

“Access to a domestic violence shelter may very well have saved this woman’s life,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. “I urge victims of domestic violence who need safety planning services, or help in securing an order of protection or shelter placement, to call our 24-hour DV Helpline at (718) 286-4410.”

Truly damning were the text messages prosecutors introduced at trial. Before and after the fire Somerville had texted the victim threats. The texts said: “I want you to know that I’m really going to kill you;” “There is no where I won’t find you now. I’m gonna devote my whole life to finding you and killing you.”

Somerville and the victim met in October 2021 at their job and began a relationship. Somerville was married at the time. The relationship soured when Somerville would show up at the victim’s home uninvited if she did not answer his calls. Prosecutors said he insisted on driving her to work even though she told him she did not want to see him.

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