CEDAR CITY – A 5th District Judge ordered a 23-year-old man to prison Tuesday for setting fire to seven vehicles last January.
Judge Keith Barnes ordered Isaac James Wall to spend one-to-15 years in the Utah State Prison for three counts of arson, all second-degree felonies. Each count carried a sentence of one-to-15 years to run concurrent meaning he serves the sentences together rather than separate. The maximum time he will serve under this arrangement is 15 years.
“There are some acts, some things, that people do that you try to look at it in a light most favorable, in this case to you, and look at the community and what protects the community – it’s just difficult to try and find that balancing scale in this case,” Barnes said prior to sentencing.
The defendant was originally charged with six counts of arson but three were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Wall started the first fire just after midnight on Jan. 10, at the home of his estranged wife in retaliation for her filing for divorce. The rest of the fires were chosen randomly at four different locations and were failed suicide attempts.
Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett pointed to several factors during Tuesday’s court hearing he said should be considered in deciding Wall’s sentence including: the defendant’s previous criminal record, past substance abuse and “violent history.”
Garrett argued that he believed the defendant presented a public safety risk to the community.
“I don’t think we can take a chance on Mr. Wall to believe that he learned his lesson and that this won’t happen again,” Garrett said. “The public risk outweighs any convenience to him and his incarceration status. We cannot let this happen again.”
One of the victims spoke out at Wall’s sentencing describing the details of that night and the fear she and her family have lived in since.
“The horror did not end that morning in January,” she said. “In fact, it had only just begun for our family. We had tried to go back to our life but the reality of what had happened sunk in as the sun rose on Tuesday morning and we saw the devastation in our driveway, in our home, and in our fence and everything that was melted and gone and burnt.”
She continued, voicing her forgiveness for the defendant.
“We do not wish you ill well,” she said. “We want you to know what the results of your actions that night have been for us. We forgive you and we sincerely hope you can forgive yourself as you pay restitution and make right what you have wronged.”
Defense attorney Troy Sundquist directed the court to the Presentence Investigation Report showing his client suffers from depression and anxiety. He argued that these mental health issues prevented Wall from being able to deal with the multiple “stressors” in his life at the time such as the pending divorce and separation from his children.
Sundquist said his client did not remember the night in question but always showed remorse for his crimes.
“From the beginning, Mr. Wall has been nothing but remorseful,” Sundquist said. “And since he’s been in jail (Wall) has engaged in multiple religious services with the hope of being able to find some sort of way to deal with that remorse and hopefully to use it in a way to better himself and keep this from happening again.”
Wall told the court he was “prepared to take responsibility” and “to do whatever (he) can to make this right.”
In closing, Garrett read from the PSI report, again stressing the danger he believed the defendant poses to society.
“Our office (Adult Probation and Parole) feels strongly that because of the nature of the crimes and the lives that were in danger that the defendant is a public safety risk,” Garrett stated.
In addition to prison, Wall was ordered to pay a $129 fine with a $129 surcharge. The court also recommended the defendant be given an opportunity for counseling if available. Restitution was left open as to be determined by the Board of Pardons.
Wall received credit for the four months he has already served in the Iron County Correctional Facility.
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