published Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Man charged with aggravated arson in Hixson fire that endangered woman, baby

A 56-year-old man faces charges of attempted criminal homicide and aggravated arson after witnesses said he set fire to a Hixson home with his 3-month-old baby inside.

Dispatchers received a call about a structure fire at 1045 Boy Scout Road at 4:41 a.m. Sunday, and officers found a vehicle burning in the driveway with the house also on fire.

Robert Allen Sherrill is accused of starting the fire just hours after the mother of his child confronted him at the Motel 6 on Lee Highway about retrieving some of her property.

He is being held on $400,000 total bond, $150,000 on the arson charge and $125,000 on each of two counts of attempted criminal homicide, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Amy Bice, 38, told investigators that Sherrill threatened her and their infant daughter by saying he was going to burn their house down with them inside and that they had better hide their car as well.

Then at 1:30 a.m. Sunday -- just hours before the flames -- Bice told police she received a call from Sherrill in which he said "I will get you before you get me."

As she returned home from Waffle House at 4 a.m., Bice said, Sherrill passed her in his truck before turning around and trying to run her car off the road.

The infant was in the car, she said.

About an hour later, Bice told police she smelled something burning and opened the garage door to see her vehicle in flames.

Another resident of the home told investigators that she had seen Sherrill running down the driveway to get in his truck just minutes before.

A brother of a resident who lives nearby pulled the burning vehicle out of the garage with his Jeep in an effort to keep the flames from spreading to the house, he told investigators.

Records show a judge dismissed a domestic aggravated assault charge against Sherrill in 2012.

His record also includes charges of reckless driving, criminal trespassing, driving on a suspended license and theft of property.

Sherrill is scheduled to appear July 15 in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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