Teen sentenced to time served for arson at Columbia mall

The Columbia teen who pleaded guilty to setting two fires outside The Mall in Columbia in May was sentenced to time served, 248 days, in Howard County Circuit Court on Thursday, according to state's attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

Richard Nathaniel Mojica, 18, of the 10000 block of Swift Stream Place, pleaded guilty on Nov. 18 to arson and malicious burning charges for setting a fire in a Dumpster outside Lord and Taylor on May 6 and for starting a fire at the Sears  loading dock three days earlier.

Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard Bernhardt sentenced Mojica to 10 years in prison with all but 248 days suspended.

Judge Bernhardt placed Mojica on five years probation, during which Mojica must seek a mental health evaluation and treatment, must stay away from The Mall in Columbia and its property, and must not possess incendiary devices (matches, lighters, etc) nor fire accelerates (e.g., gasoline, lighter fluid, etc), according to Kirwan.

Mojica also was ordered to pay restitution at a later date, which Kirwan said may exceed $10,000. 

In the May 3 incident outside Sears, police and fire investigators determined that the fire was started by igniting bales of cardboard stored under two truck trailers parked in the loading dock.

The May 6 fire near Lord and Taylor was started by igniting combustible material in a trash Dumpster and chute leading to a trash compactor.

Mojica was arrested on May 6 after police observed him leaving the area around Lord and Taylor.


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