USA – Zane Wallace Peterson, the former firefighter who started the deadly Clover Fire in 2013, was finally sentenced Wednesday by a Shasta County Superior Court judge to 44 years in prison.
With tears in his eyes, the 32-year-old Peterson apologized before his sentencing to the family of an Igo man who died in the fire, as well as to his own parents, for all the pain and suffering he caused them.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, while also vowing to try to understand why he started the Clover Fire and to try to become a better man and to help others.
During what was a two-day sentencing hearing, Peterson, who must register as an arson offender for the rest of his life once released from prison, took the witness stand on Tuesday, saying he accepted responsibility for starting the 8,073-acre Clover Fire, as well as six other smaller fires.
But, he said, he doesn’t remember setting the huge fire, nor four others.
“I don’t remember a lot in that period of my life,” he said. “I just remember I was a broken man.”
His defense attorney, Shon Northam, said Peterson was bullied as a child and began using drugs and alcohol at a young age. He said Peterson suffered a mental health and “psychological break” due to the August 2013 homicide death of his 2-year-old Red Bluff niece, Scarlett Peterson,
“She was a special girl in my life,” Peterson said on Tuesday. “It felt like a piece of me died.”
No one has been arrested or charged in the childs death.
Shasta County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ben Hanna, who sought the maximum 44-year prison sentence for Peterson, called him at the two-day sentencing hearing a “serial arsonist” and noted that he continued setting even more blazes after the destruction and havoc caused by the Clover Fire.
“Society needs to be protected” from him, he said.
Superior Court Judge Tamara Wood agreed, saying his crimes warranted the maximum 44-year sentence.
Peterson, a former firefighter from Happy Valley, pleaded guilty in August to 22 strike counts, including arson and voluntary manslaughter.
Under the terms of his plea bargain, he faced a minimum of 35 years, eights months in prison to the 44-year maximum.
He could have faced a potential life sentence if convicted at trial.
Peterson must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence about 37 years before being eligible for parole. He is also receiving 1,467 days of jail custody and good behavior credits applied to his prison sentence.
The 8,073-acre Clover Fire, which broke out Sept. 9, 2013, destroyed 60 homes and killed 55-year-old Brian Henry.
Members of Henry’s family, who sought the maximum sentence for Peterson, said the death of their loved one devastated them.
“It’s hard for a mom to lose a child,” said Henry’s mother, Janice White.
Her anguish and grief have not lessened since the death of her son four years ago, she said, adding the pain suffered by members of her family has been difficult to bear.
Henry’s brother, Patrick, and other family members said Henry spent his entire life helping people and trying to make them smile.
“He loved to make people happy,” he said.
Peterson was arrested in December 2013 after an extensive investigation that included the use of surveillance footage and a GPS device to track his pickup and car, according to a warrant for his arrest.
Two cameras spotted Petersons pickup near both origins of the Clover Fire at about the time they began, according to the warrant. No other vehicles drove by both areas, agents have said.
Peterson worked for the National Forest Service from May 15, 2005, to Oct. 22, 2012, as a fire engine operator in the Mendocino National Forest, fire officials have said.
In early 2012, Peterson pleaded guilty to petty theft charges in Tehama County that stemmed from a complaint filed by the Forest Service, according to online court records. He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay fines and restitution in that case.
Tropical peat swamp forests, which once occupied large swaths of Southeast Asia and other areas, provided a significant “sink” that helped remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such forests have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects making way for plantations. Now, research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying even forested peatlands that remain undrained.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-peatlands-dwindling-losses.html#jCpTropical peat swamp forests, which once occupied large swaths of Southeast Asia and other areas, provided a significant “sink” that helped remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such forests have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects making way for plantations. Now, research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying even forested peatlands that remain undrained.