DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A federal appeals court says a judge inadvertently violated a plea deal when he gave a 15-year prison sentence for a man who set a fire that paralyzed a Detroit firefighter and injured six of his colleagues.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Wednesday sent the case back to Detroit U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara — who can either sentence 32-year-old Samson Wright to a maximum of seven years in prison or let him withdraw his guilty plea.
Authorities say Wright and co-defendant Calvin Jones set a fire at a Metro PCS store on Detroit’s east side in 2010. As firefighters battled the blaze, the ceiling and roof of the second floor burned completely through. The second story wall of the structure collapsed on seven firefighters who were attempting to fight the fire. Four firefighters were forced to retire due to their injuries, including Brendan Milewski who was paralyzed from the waist down.
Wright pleaded guilty to malicious use of fire and was sentenced to 15-years in federal prison. He later appealed his sentence, saying it exceeded the seven-year maximum penalty outlined in a plea deal.
Officials say no one — including the judge, prosecutors and defendant — realized at the 2011 sentencing that the plea deal included a seven-year maximum.
Jones was convicted in the case after a two-week trial and sentenced to 15-years in prison.
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