Man asks for leniency at sentencing for arsons; Two judges hand down prison terms for 4 fires in Westminster area


A 20-year-old Westminster man convicted of four arsons in the Westminster area cried yesterday as he asked a judge for leniency during sentencing. He said he wanted to go back to North Carolina and work with an aunt, teaching dance to children.

"I'm asking for just one more chance," Kevin W. Wayson told Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

But Wayson received a 10-year state prison sentence from Beck for two of the four arsons -- two houses, a barn and a car -- in the Westminster area in April. Another judge sentenced him later on the other convictions.

A malicious sense of fun was the only motive attributed to Wayson throughout the court proceedings -- by witnesses, Assistant State's Attorney Brian L. DeLeonardo and two judges.

Beck said this kind of random act of violence "amounts to a kind of urban/rural terrorism."

He sentenced Wayson on a conviction in which a jury found him guilty of two arson fires April 26: a barn on Poole Road, destroyed at a loss of about $35,000 despite the efforts of 75 firefighters, and a nearby house on Green Mill Road that sustained several thousand dollars in damage.

Wayson, of the 1200 block of Campus Court, had been drinking heavily, according to testimony at his trial. His father, Augustus Thomas Wayson Jr. of the same address, testified briefly before Beck yesterday and insisted that his son was home the morning of those fires.

His son had run-ins with the law since 1994, beginning as a juvenile and including several stays at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, the judge and prosecutor noted.

Asking for mercy, defense attorney Michael S. Levin said, "Mr. Wayson in a very short time reached a very serious crossroads in his life, and his life is going to take a detour. Along that detour is a fork, and this court has the power to send him in one direction: the Department of Correction and hard time. A long sentence to the DOC amounts almost to a death penalty for Mr. Wayson."

Arson is a property crime, he told the judge.

Beck disagreed. "People say arson of vacant buildings, incompleted houses, is a crime against property -- but it is against people [who are] terrorized, who will never feel safe again."

Arson usually is for insurance or some other reason, Beck said.

"It is rare to have random acts of violence -- a lark," he said. He sentenced Wayson to serve 10 years of a maximum 20-year sentence.

Wayson then went across the hall for sentencing by Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., who found Wayson guilty last month in two more arson cases: the destruction April 14 of a nearly completed home on Kilkenny Drive, valued at more than $157,000, and a 1991 Buick Century that he stole from a lot at Carroll County General Hospital on April 13 and rammed into the house, then wrecked and set afire April 15 on Rockland Road.

"I'm sorry for all the trouble," Wayson told Burns, abandoning his written statement, "and I guess I'm going to have to take whatever sentence you give me."

Burns imposed sentences of three years and 15 years suspended, all to run at the same time as the 10-year prison term.

Pub Date: 1/21/99

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