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Former Perry Volunteer Firefighter Sentenced To 32 Years In Prison For Setting Fires
Updated July 14, 2017 4:18 PM | Filed under: Crime
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(BEDFORD) - Judge William Sleva sentenced former Perry volunteer fire department firefighter Adam Selbee to 32 years in prison on Thursday afternoon.


20-year-old Selbee agreed to plead guilty in a negotiated plea deal to four counts of arson and three counts of criminal mischief. Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Woodward filed a motion to dismiss charges of two Class B misdemeanor charges of criminal recklessness and obstruction of traffic.

Superior Court I Judge William Sleva sentenced Selbee to 8 years on the 4 courts of arson. That is for a total of 32 years. He then suspended 12 years so Selbee will serve 20 years. Judge Sleva ordered the suspended sentence to be served on probation - 6 years will be served on supervised probation and 6 on unsupervised probation. He was also given credit for 2 days served.

Judge Sleva also ordered Selbee to pay restitution to all of his victims including a judgement in the amount of $480,000 to Perry County Trustee Robert Phillips for the destruction of the Springville gym. His $6,000 bond will be split between all of those due restitution.

"I don't ever sentence anyone in anger," Judge Sleva says. "I don't like doing this to a young man who had a lot of potential. I properly do my duty and that sentence is proper."

Judge Sleva said he didn't know where to begin because of the severity of the crimes.

"This is sad all the way around," he added. "You have ruined your life. You are lucky no one was killed or severely injured... placing objects in the road way for people to hit... someone could have been killed. And that does not even address the arson. You have hurt your family and they have to live with the fact you will be incarcerated. The victims were fond of their property and proud of it. They deserve to live in a community and enjoy life and without good cause someone destroyed it."

Selbee admitted on July 19, 2016 that he walked to the 1936 Springville gymnasium with a cup of gasoline, poured that gasoline in the kitchen area and set the gasoline on fire.

springville gym fire-thumb-250xauto-8452.jpg

It took more than 100,000 gallons of water and firefighters from Perry, Marshall, Oolitic, Shawswick and Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Departments to extinguish the blaze. The fire was called in at 12:52 a.m. and it took firefighters until around 5 a.m. to get a handle on the fire.

Police say Selbee admitted to setting three vacant structure fires including Duane Connaughton's home and three hay bale fires, all which occurred in Perry Township.

Officers say Selbee was either the first firefighter to arrive on the scene or the first to report the fires.

Fire Investigator for Homeland Security Josh Kreigh testified during the sentencing about each arson case. He says Selbee's emergency technician license was immediately suspended and was immediately suspended from the fire department after being charged with the crimes.

"Mr. Selbee should never have the ability to be a full time, paid or volunteer firefighter or EMT in any state," Kreigh says.

Investigators requested a search warrant to place a GPS tracking device on a white GMC extended-cab pickup driven by Selbee.

Officers learned that Selbee was not only responsible for the fires, but also responsible for a series of traffic accidents in the Springville area caused by large limestone rocks, tires and concrete blocks being placed on the highway. Lawrence County Detective Tyler Phillips testified to the accidents.

"There was a common time period for the accidents," he added. "They occurred on third shift when it was dark... between midnight and 5 a.m."

During an interview with Detective Phillips, Selbee admitted to the crimes.

"First he admitted to placing the objects in the roadway, then setting the hay bales on fire and then the structure fires and then confessed to setting the gym on fire," Detective Phillips said. "When asked why he said he enjoyed responded to the calls...trying to be a hero fighting the fires...he got pleasure out of doing it."

Perry Township Trustee Bob Phillips wrote a letter to the court addressing the devastation caused by the loss of the gym.

"I told the court I had no recommendation on the sentencing," Phillips said. "I don't think in Adam's lifetime he will realize the emotional damage he has done to this community...The saddest thing is that volunteer and residents have spent 100's of hours raising funds to repair the damage and they have not made a drop in the bucket on what we need. It is so very sad and every time I walk out of church on Sunday morning and see the destruction to the gym the pain and sadness returns. That gym was the heart beat of this community."

Pending Lawsuit

Connaughton, who lost his modular home to arson, has filed a lawsuit against Selbee and the Perry Volunteer Fire Department, former Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Max Peters, who is Selbee grandfather and township trustee Bob Phillips.

The complaint, filed by attorneys Brett E. Nelson and Fernando L. Diaz of Indianapolis, is seeking damages for arson, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligence, gross negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence per se and other violations of state law.

The suit is seeking relief in the amount of $44,612 and continues to accrue because of ongoing emotional distress. Connaughton claims he has suffered anxiety and panic attacks as a result of the arson and damages as well as financial stress because he now has to rent a home. He also intends to seek civil damages.

Connaughton was in the process of remodeling his modular home at 263 Cobb Lane and was living in Bedford when Selbee allegedly set fire to the home on September 6, 2016.

The complaint says Chief Max Peters knew or should have know that his grandson was involved in the arsons. It also states, Peters was responsible for supervising, training and screening Selbee and the other members of the department in his role as chief and had a responsibility to inform the public of the arsons. The lawsuit states Chief Peters failed to meet those responsibilities.

The lawsuit is also against Trustee Bob Phillips because they claim he is responsible for providing fire protection to people living in the township. He is also responsible for hiring fire department personnel and contracting a fire department for the township.

No hear date has been set.

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