WATERLOO – A Waterloo man has been sentenced to prison for setting fire to a privacy fence outside a Waterloo home in July.
Taylor James Gray, 24, had been charged with first-degree arson for the July fire outside 520 Elm St., but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree arson and on Monday was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He will also be responsible for restitution.
No motive for the fire was disclosed, and Gray declined to comment during sentencing.
“The defendant did pose quite a danger to the family that was inside at the time,” said Assistant County Attorney James Katcher.
He said the fire didn’t spread to the house, but damaged a wooden fence.
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The Elm Street home had been the subject of violations under the city’s chronic nuisance ordinance in recent years following gunfire and other complaints. The latest nuisance complaint was settled out of court when the resident submitted an abatement plan to the city.
Authorities said in the early morning hours of July 23, Gray poured lighter fluid on the home’s from steps and the fence, and the fence then began to burn. The fire apparently burned out, and residents, who were inside sleeping at the time, noticed the damage later that morning and gave police video from a surveillance camera.
The video showed a figure with a T-shirt pulled up to hide his face, but the short-sleeved garment didn’t cover a large tattoo on his forearm, and court records indicate the tattoos shown in the video matched those on Gray.
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Gray’s prison sentence includes 10 years for the arson charge added to 15 years as part of a probation revocation in an unrelated burglary and theft case. In that case, Gray and another person had allegedly entered Burton Avenue Baptist Church and discharged a fire extinguisher, causing more than $1,000 worth of damage, and took an overhead projector.