SC man charged with murder linked to February house fire

WALHALLA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man is facing a murder charge linked to a deadly mobile home fire that happened in February.

Christopher Edward Burrell, 28, of Walhalla, was served a warrant Wednesday on the charge at the Oconee County Detention Center where he has been held since March 17 on unrelated charges, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said Thursday. It was unknown if Burrell has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The fire happened Feb. 11 near Walhalla, multiple news agencies reported. Deputies arrived on scene to find the mobile home fully engulfed.

The body of the homeowner, Marlan Frank Sparks, 65, was later discovered inside. Sparks died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, the coroner's office said.

An investigation determined Burrell allegedly struck Sparks with an aluminum baseball bat which knocked him out. Then, deputies said, Burrell is accused of setting the home on fire.

Investigators said Sparks accused Burrell of assaulting him on Jan. 18, as well as breaking into Sparks’ Ford Ranger pickup on Jan. 20 and damaging the ignition switch in an attempt to hotwire the truck.