SNOW HILL – A Delaware man, who attempted to get back in the good graces of his fiancé by lighting her parents’ Bishopville home on fire, pleaded guilty this week to one count of first-degree arson and was sentenced to six years in jail with all but 18 months suspended.
Brent Phillip Wright, 22, of Bridgeville, Del., was also fined $500, placed on probation for three years upon his release and ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution to the victim. As a condition of his plea arrangement, several other charges including six counts each of attempted first-degree murder and reckless endangerment were not prosecuted.
Shortly before 6 a.m. on Feb. 17, the Bishopville Volunteer Fire Company responded to a reported residential structure fire on Back Creek Rd. Upon arrival, firefighters reported light smoke coming from the residence, but soon learned the fire had been extinguished prior to their arrival. The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office conducted an origin-and-cause investigation and determined the fire had been set intentionally.
The investigation revealed Wright willfully and maliciously used a cigarette lighter to ignite a cardboard box in the home’s kitchen. The fire quickly spread to the floor of the kitchen and threatened to expand before being extinguished by a resident of the house prior to the arrival of the fire department.
The investigation further revealed Wright was engaged to a young woman who lived in the house along with five other people including two young boys ages 3 and 6. Wright and his fiancé had been involved in a domestic dispute the night before and he was told to leave the house in the morning.
However, Wright later told police in a written statement he used a cigarette lighter to ignite a cardboard box in the kitchen “in an attempt to be a hero, save the house and the people and gain his fiance’s trust back.”
Wright’s plan to become a hero by putting out the fire he started and saving the people in the house appeared to have backfired when fire investigators did not take the results of his actions lightly.
At a bond hearing following the incident, Wright was ordered held without bond and at sentencing this week he was given credit for the 112 days he spent in jail awaiting trial, which will be subtracted from his 18-month sentence.