Mt. Vernon Register-News

October 13, 2012

Young pleads guilty to arson

He was sentenced to two years probation for four counts of arson and one count of attempted arson

By NICK MARIANO
nick.mariano@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — A Bonnie man pleaded guilty this week to arson in connection with a string of structure and field fires in Jefferson County last summer that gutted two barns and included an attempt to burn down his own home.

As part of his plea agreement, Cameron J. Young, 22, of 15266 E. Adams Road, was sentenced to two-years probation for four counts of arson and one count of attempted arson, according to court records.

Judge Melissa Drew of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court also gave Young 30 months probation for two counts of criminal damage to property in connection with the fires.

The two probation periods will run concurrently. A six-month sentence of jail time was stayed unless Young violates probation. He must also undergo mental health evaluations and pay a $500 fine plus court costs.

A hearing to determine how much Young, a gas station attendant in Bonnie, will pay in restitution to the victims is set for Dec. 6. Young, scheduled for an Oct. 23 trial, faced between three to seven years in prison if convicted for the Class 2 felony arson charges, Jefferson County State’s Attorney Douglas R. Hoffman said.

Hoffman said his office agreed to the plea deal after consulting with Young’s relatives including one who suffered property loss and damages as a result of the intentional fires.  

Part of those discussions included Young’s history of mental health issues. Other contributing factors to the plea agreement was that no one was hurt in the fires nor was there any serious intent to cause harm, Hoffman said.  

“The decision to agree to probation was to ensure he is provided with mental health treatment and put him back on the right track,” Hoffman said. “Justice wouldn’t be served by sending him to prison for a long time.”

Young’s attorney, Public Defender Sean Featherstun, could not be reached for comment.

Hoffman said Young had also, allegedly, confessed to police upon his arrest that he started all the fires in question.

Young was arrested in July a little more than a week after the first of four fires he set in Bonnie and Ina. The first two of the fires were field fires on July 18 — one that damaged five acres of grass on Saddle Club Road in Bonnie and the other a field of growing crops on East Franklin Road in Ina, according to the criminal charges.

Again pointing to Young’s mental state, Hoffman said those fires appeared to have been random acts and were not targeting any particular person. Hoffman said Young used a lighter to start those fires when, at the time, the region was in the middle of a drought.

“It appears he went through a course of mental instability and was randomly setting fires,” Hoffman said.

Two days later, Young burned down a barn owned by his stepfather, David B. Adams, at 15266 E. Adams Road in Bonnie, the same address where both Young and Adams resided, court records show.

 He then set blaze to a second barn on July 25 across from his home and also owned by Adams. That same day, Young broke a window to his residence and threw burning paper into the house, which led to the single charge of attempted arson. There was minimal damage to the house, Hoffman said, both barns were destroyed.

Hoffman could not immediately say whether anyone was in the house or the barns when the fires occurred or whether there was any livestock in the barns. The house fired occurred around 11 p.m.

As part of conditions for his probation, Young must also stay off property owned by Adams unless supervised.