An O'Fallon man accused of setting fires and committing burglaries in rural St. Clair County was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison on Wednesday.
St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic sentenced Nicholas Haegele, 20, on three counts of arson and three counts of burglary.
Haegele's co-defendant Bryan Boide, 24, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Boide and Haegele, of Belleville, found themselves at the end of a gun in May. Property owner Nate Marlen sat up for two nights with a rifle waiting to catch the suspects who tried, unsuccessfully, to burn down an outbuilding on his property.
Assistant State's Attorney Laura Reppert requested that Haegele be sentenced to 14 years in prison. Reppert told the judge that the calculated manner in which the crimes were carried out and the large damages caused by Haegele's actions outweighed his lack of criminal history.
On April 23, the first fire occurred in a metal shed at 6768 Press Road in unincorporated Freeburg. Another fire destroyed a metal shed at 4667 Carr Road in unincorporated Freeburg on May 1. On May 7, A fire destroyed the Freeburg Township Building at 718 Hill Mine Road in Freeburg, a shed burned west of Freeburg on Illinois 15 and a fire was started at 8400 River King Road, but burned out without any damage. On May 9, another fire destroyed a barn on Turkey Hill Lane in Freeburg. On May 11, an early morning fire destroyed a vacant residential building at the YMCA Outdoor Center near Belleville.
Damage estimates place the loss at about $1 million.
"These kids weren't playing with matches," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. "These were serious dangerous crimes that terrified multiple communities."
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2570.