Man accused of burning neighbor's home over tall grass

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - A man who police said set his neighbor’s house on fire was taken into custody Thursday.
         

Cartersville police told Channel 2’s Diana Davis the suspect, Phillip Bennett, was angry that his neighbor had not cut the grass. Police said Bennett went into a rage, setting his neighbor's home on fire while the neighbor, Marty Corbitt, was inside with his 3-year-old daughter.
     
“In 34 years, I've seen a lot of crazy things, but this is one is for the books,” said Cartersville Police Chief Thomas Culpepper.
        
The house is gutted and a total loss. Neighbors were shocked.
         
“I’m just surprised this happened. I couldn't hardly believe it. (I) just can’t understand why someone would burn someone’s house down for not cutting the grass,” said Wayne Rice.

This wasn't the first trouble between Corbitt and Bennett. Police told Davis that last week, the suspect walked across the street and slapped Corbitt in his yard.
 
Police told Davis they didn’t arrest Bennett at the time because neighbors who witnessed the fight wouldn't come forward.

“We couldn’t really find enough evidence to do anything. It was kind of a ‘he said, he said’ argument at the time. Then, yesterday had its own set of events,” said Culpepper.
         
Neighbors told Davis off-camera that moments before the fire, Bennett told them he was going to burn the house down.
 
After the fire, police said Bennett ran. On Thursday, they tracked his cellphone to Murphy, N.C.  They said Bennett turned himself in to North Carolina authorities.
         
Channel 2 cameras were there as Bennett was brought back to the Cartersville Police Department and charged with arson, aggravated assault, cruelty to children, terroristic threats, burglary, criminal trespass and criminal damage to property.

Police said they will ask the district attorney to charge him with attempted murder because the victim and his daughter were inside the house when the fire was set.

“He's going to be a very, very old man, if he is convicted, by the time he gets out of prison. We see him as a dangerous, violent person,” said Culpepper.
         
Bennett has a criminal record. He had had already served time for assault and involuntary manslaughter. He was on parole living in his mother’s house across the street from the house police said he set on fire.



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