The Richmond Register

Local News

February 12, 2013

Jury finds man guilty of misdemeanor arson attempt

Defendant is already parole-eligible

RICHMOND — A Madison County jury was offer two theories to explain the actions of 51-year-old Wayne Irvine on April 17, the day he doused himself and his girlfriend’s house in gasoline and told police he wanted officers to shoot him.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Brian Barker called what happened a “sorry suicide attempt” by an ill-and-troubled man who was just crying out for help.

“If your intention is to burn a house down, it’s a bad, bad idea to cover yourself in gasoline,” Barker said.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Smith depicted a more sinister motive behind Irvine’s actions that day on Fairview Court.

“His plan was to kill (his girlfriend), kill himself and go out in a blaze of glory,” Smith said in his closing statement.

In the end, the jury leaned toward the defense’s explanation of the crime. The jurors found Irvine guilty of attempted three-degree arson, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Irvine originally was indicted on a charge of felony attempted second-degree arson.

The lesser charge means the jury believed Irvine’s actions were wanton, rather than intentional.

If Irvine had been found guilty on the felony arson charge, his sentencing range would have been five to 10 years in prison.

The jury also found Irvine guilty of felony first-degree criminal mischief, a crime that carries a sentence of one to five years in prison. The jury recommended a sentence of four years on that charge, which was related to the $14,000 in damage done to Melissa Bowling’s home and belongings.

In addition, the jury recommended Irvine serve concurrent misdemeanor sentences of 12 months each for third-degree attempted arson and violating a DVO, and 90 days for menacing.

The jury found Irvine not guilty on a second menacing charge.

Because Irvine has served 310 days in jail awaiting trial, he already is parole-eligible. Kentucky law states he is eligible after serving 15 percent of his sentence, which is a little over seven months.

Judge Jean C. Logue set Irvine’s sentencing for 11:30 a.m. March 6.

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