A Brooklyn man was sentenced to nearly three decades in prison for repeatedly stalking and threatening a Forest Hills mother of three in 2021 after she broke off their relationship, and then set her apartment on fire, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Sept. 19.
Steven Somerville, 52, of Bushwick Avenue, was convicted by a jury in July 2023 of arson in the second degree, burglary in the second degree, reckless endangerment, criminal contempt in the first degree and stalking in the third and fourth degrees.
According to the charges and trial testimony, Somerville met the female victim at their mutual place of employment. In October 2021, Somerville and the woman began an intimate relationship. Although married, Somerville became fixated on the woman and targeted her with unwanted attention.
He showed up at the victim’s residence uninvited if she didn’t answer his calls and insisted on driving her to work, even though she said she didn’t want to see him. Somerville’s wife found out about the victim, became concerned for the woman’s safety and encouraged her to contact the police.
On Dec. 4, 2021, when the victim attempted to end her relationship with Somerville, he threatened to kill her, according to the charges. She fled her residence with her three children to a domestic violence shelter. Over a 24-hour period, Somerville called the victim more than 100 times.
On Dec. 7, 2021, at approximately 4 a.m., Somerville entered the victim’s empty apartment in a six-story building in Forest Hills. He moved two mattresses from a bedroom into the living room, piled them with household items and clothing and set them on fire, according to the charges. He left the apartment through a window leaving the front door locked. Surveillance footage shows him in the vicinity of the building at the time.
Before and after the fire, Somerville sent the victim threatening texts saying, “I want you to know that I’m really going to kill you;” “There is nowhere I won’t find you now. I’m gonna devote my whole life to finding you and killing you,” according to Katz.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone, Jr. sentenced Somerville to 27 years to 29 years in prison.
“Access to a domestic violence shelter may very well have saved this woman’s life,” Katz said.”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.”