Oct. 22--YAKIMA, Wash. -- A teenager accused of setting a potentially deadly house fire in Selah earlier this summer pleaded guilty to first-degree arson Monday and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Sammy Edward Hale, 18, of Selah also entered guilty pleas in connection with a rash of break-ins and car prowls in Selah around the time of the fire, which badly damaged a home in the 100 block of North 12th Street.
Police said a man was asleep inside at the time but escaped.
According to court records in the case, Hale made incriminating statements about the cause of the July 11 fire after he turned himself in weeks later. His statements allegedly matched evidence at the scene.
Authorities said Hale said he was drunk at the time and accompanied by three other individuals, but wouldn't provide their names. Witnesses said they saw several people in the area.
The blaze caused $270,000 damage to the residence and might have killed the occupant had he not been awakened by the alert occupants of a passing vehicle, according to police.
Hale allegedly admitted he suspected someone was home at the time because of vehicles in the driveway. He also confessed to several burglaries and car prowls, including a break-in at the Selah pool.
In addition to his sentence of 34 months in prison, Hale also was placed on 18 months probation. First-degree arson is a strike offense in Washington.
Copyright 2013 - Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.