Three men must spend time behind bars for the arson of a Sudden Valley home, a Whatcom County judge ruled this week.
Just before midnight on Sept. 1, three men with red bandannas over their faces knocked on the door of a 1 1/2 -story chalet on Cayuse Court. The tallest of the three – skinny, in blue jeans – said something unintelligible in what sounded like a Southern accent, according to charging papers.
The homeowner, 41, later told police he did not recognize the men, so he refused to open the door. He heard something bump against the deck, and saw flames when he looked out the window. The three men ran down Cayuse. The resident managed to control the fire with an extinguisher, but the front of the house and deck were burned.
As firefighters rushed to the scene they saw a vehicle crashed in a ditch about a half-mile down the street from the house. Sheriff’s deputies found the car at Tumbling Water Drive and Bigleaf Lane, and noticed the driver, Calvin James Pray, 20, smelled like gasoline. Pray denied knowing about a fire or two other men. Deputies saw a red bandanna on the floor.
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Minutes later deputies saw two men, Roy Wade, 38, and Rory Boyle, 27, walking toward the car. Wade had a red-and-black bandanna sticking out of his back pocket; Boyle’s backpack smelled “strongly of gasoline,” according to the charges. They admitted to being passengers in Pray’s car. Wade, who’s from Florida, said he didn’t know about a fire.
“I don’t know, I’m drunk,” he said, in what sounded like a Southern accent. He’s 6-foot-2, the tallest of the three.
The three men were arrested. On the way to jail two of them claimed to have been at a party they heard about through Facebook.
“We heard rumors there was a party,” Pray said. Later he added, “We just happened to be driving by and saw a party.”
“Shut the (expletive) up, you just gave him three different answers,” Wade told him. “You reek like gas, what the (expletive) did you do?”
All three men were charged with arson. All three pleaded guilty Monday to arson in the second degree. All received the standard sentence based on state sentencing guidelines for defendants with their criminal records.
Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig sentenced Wade to 15 months in prison. He had been convicted of arson in the first degree in California in the late 1990s, and felony harassment in 2015.
Boyle received 13 months. Nearly a decade ago he was convicted of robbery in the second degree.
Pray was sentenced to six months behind bars. He had one misdemeanor on his record, for possessing marijuana.