HAMILTON — The second of three young defendants who set fires and vandalized Hamilton cars and businesses in May received a 15-year sentence Wednesday for those crimes and another five years for a second burglary.
Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton gave Micah Romel Brown, 19, a sentence of 20 years total with the Montana Department of Corrections for four felony counts related to the vandalism on May 17 and a separate burglary that he committed a year ago.
In a plea agreement, Brown got five years for burglary and 10 years, all suspended, for arson to run consecutive to the burglary sentence; and five years, all suspended, for criminal mischief to run at the same time as the burglary sentence.
Finally, for the January 2011 burglary, Langton gave him a five-year suspended sentence that kicks in after the 15 years that he serves for the vandalism crimes.
According to court records, Brown, Isaiah Bartlett and Harley Edelbach broke into St. Francis Church buildings and stole paint; spray-painted obscenities on 36 structures or cars; poured buckets of paint from downtown rooftops; and started a fire in a detached garage that threatened a family of four sleeping in a nearby house.
The prosecution charged Bartlett and Edelbach as adults. Bartlett was sentenced Jan. 12 and received a similar 15-year sentence, while Edelbach is headed for a trial by jury March 19.
Deputy prosecutor Ryan Weldon said Brown got the longer sentence because of the two incidents of burglary, although he stressed that the arson was the more serious crime. Brown and Bartlett will have to register as violent offenders because of the arson. Edelbach will, too, if he is convicted.
In the unrelated burglary case, Brown burglarized a Hamilton shop last January and took tools valued at more than $4,000. He then tried to sell them at pawn shops in Hamilton and Missoula.
“It will take a significant amount of time for him to pay the restitution, so we want to give him enough time to pay it,” Weldon said.
Bartlett, Brown and Edelbach are going to need to work a long time in prerelease and beyond to pay off the restitution of more than $100,000. Brown will pay more than $1,500 extra restitution for the January burglary.
Langton noted that Brown has completed his GED and has a work history, in addition to the fact that he grew up in foster homes and boarding schools because both parents were in prison for drug crimes.
Langton agreed with the plea deal and recommended that Brown attend the DOC boot camp and Connections Corrections, a community-based corrections program for the chemically dependent, while working on supervised probation.