An arsonist has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for starting the fire that destroyed three buildings in downtown Holly Hill.
Marvin Leroy Capers-Smith Jr., 38, of Newark, N.J. and Bonneau, S.C., pleaded guilty to arson in January.
U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Capers-Smith to 92 months in federal prison on Thursday.
He also has to pay over $700,000 in restitution to the victims: Joy’s Touch of Class, Goldstein’s and Super 10.
Capers-Smith set fire to Joy’s Touch of Class on the night of Jan. 8, 2018 after spending two hours stealing merchandise from the store.
Jan C. Wiles, owner of Super 10, told The T&D, “I must say that I was disappointed in what I consider a light sentence. I realize there are many arsons that are never solved, so I am glad that there was some punishment given. At least now I feel like I have closure to this life-changing ordeal. Hopefully I can put it behind me now.”
Wiles said Capers-Smith will have two years of supervised release after he completes his federal prison term.
“The judge was quite stern in her addressing the arsonist regarding the supervised release at the end of his sentence,” Wiles said.
Jerry Hannah, owner of Goldstein’s, said, “I feel sorry for all parties involved who lost their livelihood. It was a tragedy to the citizens of Holly Hill.”
Hannah said Capers-Smith received a light prison term, but the amount of restitution was justified.
“I don’t know where he’ll get the money,” Hannah added.
“I feel for his family and personally, I feel he’ll have to justify it to his maker,” he added.
The estimated total loss of the three businesses exceeded $1 million.
Smith-Capers was on probation and wearing an ankle monitor when he set the blaze.
As he drove away from the scene of the fire, a Holly Hill police officer noticed his vehicle entering the roadway without using a turn signal, according to Police Chief Josh Detter.
Capers-Smith then entered the lane for oncoming traffic and later disregarded a stop sign, according to a police incident report.
The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but Capers-Smith began traveling at a high rate of speed on Toney Bay Road. The officer decided to call off the pursuit because there were icy patches on the road.
Capers-Smith’s SUV was later located upside-down on the side of the road. Officers searched and found him nearby in a ditch. His back was broken.
A volunteer firefighter on the way to the crash discovered the downtown buildings were on fire.
Capers-Smith is facing state charges of reckless driving, third-offense driving under suspension and second-offense failure to stop for blue lights causing great bodily injury.
He’s also facing an additional, unrelated charge of second-degree burglary.
Those charges remain pending.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Holly Hill Police Department, Holly Hill fire department, Orangeburg County Fire District and S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston David Holliday Jr. of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.
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