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Convicted arsonist gets 6 and a half years in prison

Published On: Jan 22 2014 06:50:34 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 23 2014 03:17:46 PM CST

A man convicted of setting fires in two buildings on Columbia college campuses is getting the maximum sentence for his crime, despite requests for more time.

On Tuesday, Christopher Kelley was sentenced to six and a half years, even though prosecutors wanted a minimum of 10 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn filed a motion earlier this month to get a tougher sentence.

Kelley set fire to a classroom at Stephens College in May 2011.

Just months later in September, he set 10 fires inside Ellis Library at the University of Missouri.

Lynn filed a motion in January requesting an upward variance, or an allowance of a sentence higher than the maximum of six and a half years.

A spokesperson for Lynn told ABC 17 News he wanted a tougher sentence because he believes when Kelley gets out of prison, he will set fires again.

He stated in the motion "the circumstances of these offenses establish that the Defendant is a serial arsonist who committed these crimes simply for the thrill of it."

Another reason U.S. prosecutors want a tougher sentence is because of the amount of property damage or loss.

The damage to Ellis Library totaled around $1 million.  Cleanup alone was half a million dollars.

Damage to the classroom at Stephens College cost $55,000.

Lynn stated, "Because of the unique nature of these buildings, the extensive damage caused by the Defendant, the disruption of government-related functions, and his responsibility for additional offenses, an upward departure from the Guidelines range is warranted."

The documents also linked Kelley to a third fire, at an abandoned home in the 1400 block of Windsor Street in Columbia.

Documents state a witness saw Kelley sitting in the front lawn of the home watching the fire after he set it.

Despite the witness, surveillance photos, and conviction, Kelley still maintains his innocence.

The spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office told ABC 17 News Kelley's defense attorney will be seeking the minimum sentence of five years.


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