12-Year Sentence In West OC Arson

SNOW HILL — A Snow Hill man who pleaded guilty in December to first-degree arson for setting a residential house fire in West Ocean City last April was sentenced to 12 years in jail last week in Worcester County Circuit Court.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, 2010, Ocean City firefighters responded to a reported fire at a residence on Keyser Point Rd. A neighbor reported the fire. First-arriving units reported heavy fire showing from the rear of the single-story dwelling, which was unoccupied at the time of the blaze.

During the course of the investigation, the Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire had been intentionally set and ruled it an arson case, although no suspect or suspects were immediately identified.

However, the Fire Marshal’s Office concluded its investigation with the arrest of Thomas W. Sellers, 53, whose last known address was in Snow Hill. Sellers was charged with first- and second-degree arson.

In December, Sellers pleaded guilty to first-degree arson and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. He returned to Circuit Court in Snow Hill last week and was sentenced by Judge Thomas C. Groton to 12 years in jail. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim to cover an insurance deductible.

“You continue to do the same things,” the judge said during the hearing. “It’s obvious to me you have a problem with anger management and a problem with substance abuse.”

For his part, Sellers was somewhat remorseful and did not relish spending a significant portion of his adult life in prison.

“I’m sorry to be here,” he said. “I’m getting up in years and I don’t think I can do much jail time.”

For Sellers, his arson conviction for the Keyser Point Rd. fire was just the latest in a string of incidents in the same area.

Last August, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail for trespassing at a residence on Keyser Point Rd. Earlier in the year, in March, a Maryland State Police trooper responded to a residence for a reported burglary. The trooper met with the victim who told police three different witnesses had seen a man they knew as Sellers enter the home illegally the day before.

While inside, the witnesses reported hearing Sellers rummage through cabinets in the home. The property owner returned and confronted Sellers, who said he had entered the locked residence after finding a hidden key outside.

According to police reports, when Sellers left the residence, he went out to the back yard and slashed the tires of an unregistered Ford F-150 truck. Sellers had slashed other tires on the vehicle during an earlier incident.