Carrington man sentenced in arson caseA Carrington, N.D., man pleaded guilty to arson in Southeast Judicial District Court Tuesday, in connection with a fire at a Jamestown business last year.
A Carrington, N.D., man pleaded guilty to arson in Southeast Judicial District Court Tuesday, in connection with a fire at a Jamestown business last year.
Joshua David Marsaa, 23, was accused of starting a fire that destroyed a shop building at S&R Truck Plaza on Feb. 13, 2010. Arson is a Class B felony.
Marsaa, a former S&R Truck Plaza night manager, testified at his sentencing hearing that he had worked eight days in a row at the shop. He was there with Scot Soulis, Chad Maley, Donna Rae Rowell and Arlen Lee Schultes around 2:30 a.m. Feb. 13. Marsaa said he had given them a ride to the shop after the friends had spent the evening drinking.
Maley, Rowell and Schultes were charged with false information or report to law enforcement. Charges against Schultes were later dismissed. Maley and Rowell pleaded guilty, said Stutsman County Assistant State’s Attorney Troy LeFevre. Rowell was given a one-year deferred imposition and ordered to pay $325 in fines and fees. Maley’s sentence is pending.
Soulis co-owned the S&R Truck Plaza with Dale Redinger. Marsaa said Soulis regularly joked about burning down the building. Soulis pleaded guilty to criminal attempt and criminal conspiracy in relation to the fire. His sentencing is scheduled for September.
Marsaa said Soulis offered him more than $20,000 and a guaranteed job on the evening of Feb. 13, if Marsaa set fire to the shop.
Judge Thomas Merrick said he believed Soulis used Marsaa.
“He (Marsaa) is kind of a pawn in this thing,” Merrick said.
Marsaa told the court he started the fire in a truck tractor belonging to Redinger. Marsaa said he lit a cigarette, dropped the lighter and it started a fire. Marsaa said no accelerant was used.
“It was more of an accident, but it’s my fault for what happened,” Marsaa said at his sentencing in Southeast Judicial District Court Tuesday.
The lighter caught a blanket on fire, Marsaa said, and then spread from the truck to the shop’s building.
“We tried fighting for a good 20 minutes, half hour,” Marsaa said, saying the shop’s fire extinguishers were empty.
LeFevre agreed to drop a criminal conspiracy charge against Marsaa if he pleaded guilty to arson. Criminal conspiracy is also a Class B felony.
Merrick ordered Marsaa to pay $8,714 in restitution, the cost for losses not covered by insurance. The restitution is joint and several with Soulis, meaning both men are responsible for repayment.
Merrick could have ordered Marsaa to pay $840,000 in restitution, the value of the destroyed truck and building. Defense attorney William Mackenzie argued that restitution of that amount is an undue burden on a laborer. Since the fire, Marsaa has done custom combining out of Beulah.
Merrick said the insurance company is responsible for the remainder of those costs. If it wants to collect those costs from Marsaa, it can file a civil suit, Merrick said.
“I don’t see Mr. Marsaa having any obligation to pay that insurance company,” Merrick said.
Merrick sentenced Marsaa to two years in jail with one suspended and 86 days credit for time served. Marsaa is to pay about $1,100 in fees in addition to the restitution. Marsaa is not to possess or own firearms, use alcohol excessively, possess any controlled substance or use any surveillance equipment. He is to provide a DNA sample and not to gamble or enter gaming sites without permission.
Class B felonies are punishable with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com