Arsonist, rabbit-killer gets 7½ years

Darryl Wayne Smith Jr. was found guilty of setting a fire at his former girlfriend's home that killed a pet rabbit

A Central Point man will spend at least the next 71/2; years in prison for setting a fire in his ex-girlfriend's home last year that killed her pet rabbit.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday found Darryl Wayne Smith Jr., 27, guilty of first-degree arson, aggravated animal abuse and first-degree burglary, according to court records.

Smith set fire to his ex-girlfriend's home in the 1000 block of Olympic Avenue in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2012.

Fire crews rushed to the scene and saw flames bursting from the front door and windows.

Inside, the victim's pet rabbit had died and her cat barely escaped with its life.

During the three-day trial, prosecutors painted Smith as a violent and jealous man who made threats against his ex-girlfriend and her animals.

Medford Fire-Rescue Capt. Randy Green testified that the fire was dangerous because of its intense heat and the quickness with which it spread.

Fire inspectors determined Smith set the blaze in the residence's living room next to a bookcase. The rabbit's cage was near the origin of the fire.

Smith was arrested the night of the fire as he spoke to investigators at the scene.

Fire officials testified that Smith attempted to lead them away from the area where the fire was set in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The trick did not work as Medford police officers quickly determined he was the primary suspect and placed him in custody soon after the flames were doused.

Jurors heard testimony from Smith's co-workers and neighbors who said he would make violent threats to his ex-girlfriend during arguments.

Prosecutors accused Smith of purposely killing the rabbit out of revenge, hoping to cause his ex-girlfriend to suffer for trying to distance herself from him.

First-degree arson is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory 71/2;-year sentence. Aggravated animal abuse is a felony and is charged when a person maliciously kills or tortures an animal.

Smith was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on Thursday, where he will await transfer to prison.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.


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