A 20-year-old Medford man was spared prison time Thursday when prosecutors did not charge him with a Measure 11 arson charge for setting a fire to a house earlier this year.
Devon Anthony McDonald, 20, pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree arson Thursday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Instead of spending the next 7 years, 6 months in prison, which is the mandatory minimum sentence for first-degree arson when charged as a Measure 11 crime, McDonald was placed on three years supervised probation and required to pay restitution to the victim.
McDonald was at a home on Chestnut Street belonging to Stanley Hagist in Medford in early May when he became enraged because he thought someone had stolen his iPod.
He then doused the side of the home with gasoline and lit it on fire. The flames quickly consumed the home, but not before Hagist could escape.
The house was destroyed, leaving Hagist homeless.
McDonald was arrested a few months later and charged with several felonies.
Prosecutors decided that McDonald's young age and lack of serious criminal history should exempt him from a Measure 11 sentence.
Prosecutor Nick Geil said first-degree arson can be charged as a non-Measure 11 crime, which severely cuts the penalty.
"We believe Mr. McDonald is a young man who can still get his life on track," Geil said.
Geil acknowledged McDonald made a terrible decision that night and should be held accountable. If he does not follow the strict terms of his probation, he will be sent to prison for nearly two years.
Hagist was under the weather Thursday and could not speak at the sentencing. He sent his ex-wife Linda Amble to address the court in his place.
"Stan doesn't want the kid to go to prison," Amble said. "Prison won't do him any good. He'll just come out worse. Stan has already forgiven him and hopes he receives treatment and gets his life going in a positive direction."
Judge Kelly Ravassipour accepted the prosecution's suggested sentence, but gave McDonald a strict warning before settling the case.
"I'm going to make it clear to you that if you screw up you're going to prison," Ravassipour said. "You have a lot to prove."
The amount of restitution will be determined later, Geil said.
Amble said Hagist would be happy with the judge's decision.
"Stan said he has prayed for the young man and hopes he gets the help he needs," she said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.