2 teens sentenced in $6M arson on Northwest Sideby Sheryl Kornman on Apr. 21, 2009, under Local, Special
Two teens, whose early-morning drunken prank in April 2008 turned into a multimillion-dollar blaze that cost a man a lifetime of family heirlooms and a woman third-degree burns, were sentenced to prison Monday.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Hector Campoy sentenced Jeffrey Harry Moore Jr., 19, to six years in prison on one count of arson and to four years of probation on a count of endangerment, to begin after his release from prison.
Bryce Cameron Hobbs, 19, was sentenced to one year in prison for each of two counts of criminal damage. He will serve the sentences concurrently.
Moore and Hobbs, both 18 at the time of the fire, pleaded guilty to avoid a trial.
Prosecutor Malena Acosta said Hobbs provided the means for Moore to commit the act of arson. He gave Moore a gas can and Moore lit the blaze, she said.
According to their attorneys, both teens were “intoxicated” when they tried to siphon gas from vehicles parked at Crescent Ridge Apartments, 3900 W. Linda Vista Blvd.
When they weren’t successful at getting much gas from the vehicles, Hobbs said to Moore, “Let’s just burn a building,” according to court documents.
Moore went to the center of the stick-frame apartment complex with the gas can at 3:45 a.m. and lit the siphon hose containing gasoline, the documents state.
The complex and an adjacent construction site sustained $5 million in damage and an adjacent apartment complex had $1.3 million in damage.
The fire destroyed eight units at the complex where it was set and damaged others.
Dozens of residents had to flee 60-foot flames in the middle of the night, according to victims’ statements at court Monday.
More than two dozen victims came forward citing individual claims for restitution, although just a few spoke publicly.
One woman said she spent about a month getting treatment in a burn unit and showed the judge the burn scars on her right arm. One man said he woke to his wife screaming at the top of her lungs, calling 911 to get help, he said, as flames lit up the sky.
“We ran for our lives,” a victim said.
The victims said they suffer physically and emotionally from the fire.
Several said they now have to walk to work. An estimated 50 vehicles were damaged by the heat of the fire.
“It was like a war zone,” one victim told the court.
A presentence report showed Moore and his siblings had been taken from their mother, a methamphetamine addict, by Child Protective Services. His mother served a prison sentence for fraud and is facing new fraud charges.
Campoy said he took Moore’s unstable background and lack of parental supervision into consideration and gave him less than the maximum of eight years on the arson charge.
Moore and Hobbs both apologized to the victims in the courtroom Monday and told the judge they would improve their lives.
Each will get credit for 281 days in jail while awaiting the outcome of their cases.