Albuquerque man sentenced to 1 year in arson case
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An arsonist who admitted to setting a shed on fire after years of pent-up anger found out how long he’ll be staying in jail Wednesday – and it’s not nearly as long as the victim asked for.
A judge sentenced Eric Christian after more than an hour of family members, friends, and Christian himself speaking from both sides.
Dawn Mata told a Judge Wednesday she’s still cleaning up and recovering from a shed fire in late June. Her long-time friend Eric Christian later admitted to setting it.
“I was the maid of honor in his wedding because he married my childhood best friend, who is like a sister to me,” said Dawn Mata.
That childhood best friend and her son were staying with Mata at the time after Christian reportedly violated a restraining order, and committed domestic violence and abuse against them.
“There was a valid restraining order, but defendant had pursued a pattern of conduct intended to intimidate, harass, and place in fear his wife,” said the prosecutor.
Mata says she and her children paid the price for it. The state showed video of the fire and pictures of the damage to Mata’s home in Wednesday’s sentencing.
“They are now afraid to go to sleep in their room without me, they are afraid of him coming back, they constantly ask if the doors are locked,” said Mata.
Mata made one request to the judge.
“My request is that he stay in jail a little longer, a little longer and give me time to sell my home and move after recovering from this fire, because that is my plan to move so that he doesn’t know where I live,” Mata said.
The prosecutor also read statements on behalf of Christian’s wife and son, saying alcoholism contributed to his actions:
“My husband is an alcoholic and was intoxicated every day for 27 years.”
They requested he go to alcohol and trauma counseling, and a parenting class.
The defense agreed alcohol played a role and argued without alcohol, Christian is not a danger to society.
“The point that I think we should all be emphasizing is he needs to get treatment, so this doesn’t happen again. Because keeping him incarcerated puts a band-aid over the situation,” the defense attorney said.
Christian spoke for himself, saying the humiliation of the past six months has been punishment enough.
“This is not who I am. God didn’t put me on earth as Eric Christian to be in jail. God put me on this earth to do good things,” said Christian.
He asked for forgiveness from the victim too.
“There’s no way I would ever do anything to harm any kids, I wasn’t thinking when I did it. I was so angry, I finally just snapped,” said Christian.
Christian has been in jail since June, but could get out in a few weeks.
Judge Bruce Fox sentenced him to one year, but gave him credit for time served, and the potential to earn time off for good behavior.
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