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Convicted arsonist sought longer sentence

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — A convicted arsonist says he deserved a longer sentence than he received.

Roy Strait, 40, of Stevens Point, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison and 10 years on supervision, but only after he asked the judge in a letter read in court for 25 years behind bars and five years of supervision, Stevens Point Journal Media reported.

Strait pleaded no contest to one count of arson in June for setting his apartment building on fire last March. Two people were home at the time, and public safety workers rescued two cats from the burning building.

Strait turned himself in to police later that day. According to the criminal complaint, he told police he set the fire because he suffered from depression and wanted to return to prison because he was alone. He also told police he knew people were home when he set the fire by pouring gasoline all over the building and igniting it before he left.

“Many men lead lives of quiet desperation,” defense attorney Richard Bender said, quoting 19th Century writer Henry David Thoreau. “My client is one of those men.”

Portage County Assistant District Attorney David Knaapen said he didn’t think Strait intended to kill the other residents, but that he displayed an utter disregard for their lives. Strait put three people out of their homes and destroyed the livelihood of the landlord who owned the building, he said.

“He said that he didn’t feel comfortable living in the community and wanted to go back to prison,” Knaapen said. “But there are numerous other ways that wouldn’t have caused the amount of damage or risk the potential loss of life.”

Portage County Circuit Judge Thomas Flugaur agreed a prison sentence was appropriate in order to get Strait the help he needs and to protect the public.

“This a very grave offense, and clearly outrageous behavior,” Flugaur said.

Information from: Stevens Point Journal Media, http://www.stevenspointjournal.com

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