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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2003

Convicted arsonist gets 3 years

A 19-year-old Springfield Township man who played a role in starting fires in an apartment complex storage room and three vehicles was sentenced yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to three years in prison.

Joshua Weiler of 101 Hedgewood Lane was sentenced by Judge Ronald Bowman for starting fires Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 with two 17-year-olds at Hidden Cedars Apartments, 6201 Garden Rd., in the township. The judge also ordered Weiler to pay more than $17,000 in restitution for the damage the fires caused.

“I'm truly sorry for what I did, “ Weiler said. “I didn't expect what I did to come this far.”

Weiler was convicted of one count of aggravated arson and three counts of arson.

Weiler and the two boys were arrested after the second night of fires at the complex, where one of the juveniles lives.

Investigators said the teenagers used aerosol cans, rubbing alcohol, torn rags, and soft-drink cans to make incendiary devices that they planted in a car and pickup truck on the first night. A similar device was detonated in a vehicle on the second night about 10:40 p.m., and followed about 20 minutes later with a fire in a storage unit at the complex.

John Thebes, Weiler's attorney, said his client has psychological and substance-abuse problems.

“I'm not sure if Josh knows why he committed these acts,” Mr. Thebes told Judge Bowman. “Certainly, there are issues of pyromania that exist.”

Michael Mota, an assistant county prosecutor, said Weiler and the two juveniles could have hurt someone when they started the fires.

“They had to evacuate people above the storage unit,” he said. “This was a threat to a number of residents.”

The two juveniles were charged with delinquency in connection with arson. The boys were found guilty recently in Lucas County Juvenile Court, and received suspended one-year sentences at an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility. They were placed on probation for three years and classified as serious youthful offenders.

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