Local News

Juvenile Pleads to Charges in Connection to Fatal Fire


A teenager charged in connection to a fatal fire was ordered to complete a treatment program in exchange for any time in the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

 

The fire from December 2009, which claimed the life of Gary Wells Jr.

 

J.M, who was 14 at the time, and will turn 18 in December, admitted to one count of voluntary manslaughter, which was amended from a count of murder. He also admitted to two counts of felonious assault, both amended from attempted murder charges. Four other counts, including arson and aggravated arson charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

 

Judge James Rapp, who is sitting by assignment, then accepted the joint sentencing recommendation, which placed J.M. in the Department of Youth Services for 3 years up to the age of 21. As part of the agreement, the time in D.Y.S. was suspended, and J.M. was ordered to successfully complete a program at New Horizons Youth Center in Bethesda, Ohio. He will also be educated in the Union Local School District.

 

J.M. admitted to the charges in connection to a fire that claimed the life of Gary Wells Junior. His mother Sarah Wells, and brother Derrick Fortner escaped the burning house.

 

Family members of Wells, including his mother, two sisters and a niece, expressed outrage at what they perceived to be a light sentence. The mother, Doretta Wells, asked J.M. why he did what he did, saying that her son loved him and was the only family he had.

 

Following another angry outburst, Judge Rapp threatened to have them removed form the Courtroom.

After the sentencing, Prosecutor Bailey said given the fact that their request to have the case transferred to the general division, their options were limited, and no matter what the charge was, J.M. could only have been sentenced until he was 21.

 

Judge Rapp placed J.M. on community control until the age of 21, and stressed that any violations could land him in DYS until he is 21.

It is possible for J.M. to complete the New Horizons program in 12 months, but would remain on community control sanctions until he is 21.

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