Sykesville man gets six-year sentence in burning of barn Judge gives concurrent term in animal mutilation

February 26, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville man who pleaded guilty to conspiring with three others to burn a barn in Westminster was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison.

Jason W. Lewis, 20, was convicted of arson, conspiracy to commit arson and animal mutilation on Dec. 9 in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Lewis, formerly of Elkridge, said yesterday that he was sorry for what he had done and for disappointing his family. He said he hoped that after serving his time in prison, he can pay back his family, the victims and society for what he did.

Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold called the case a tragedy.

"Anyone bent on surrendering to the war on drugs should come and sit in this court, as I have for 16 years," Arnold said.

Prosecutors said that the motive was revenge after the owners of the barn had complained to police about drug activities by one of four people charged with setting the fire.

Arnold sentenced Lewis to 10 years on the arson count before suspending all but six years of the term.

The judge ordered an identical concurrent sentence on the count of conspiracy to commit arson and a three-year concurrent term on the mutilation count.

After being released, Lewis will be placed on five years of supervised probation and has been ordered to pay nearly $7,000, his share in restitution to Merle and Shirley Barrows, who owned the barn.

Co-conspirators Donald E. Freeman, 25, of Westminster and Danne P. Dittrich Jr., 21, of Hampstead pleaded guilty to the same charges and are awaiting sentencing. A fourth person was charged as a juvenile and was not identified.

The four went to the barn in the 2000 block of Old Washington Road about 2 a.m. April 27, prosecutors said. One kicked a rooster and another struck it with a sword. One stabbed a pet pig, and another hit the animal in the head with a cinder block. The fire was set in a pile of hay.

Other animals, including an unspecified number of chickens, died in the fire, prosecutors said.

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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