Measure to stiffen arson penalties in Pa. advances

Posted: October 04, 2012

Stronger penalties for arson offenses is one step closer to becoming a law, the Chester County District Attorneys office says. A bill, prompted by a series of approximately 70 arsons in Coastesville between 2008 and 2010, has passed the Pennsylvania Senate. The bill was sponsored by Senators John Rafferty and Dominic Pileggi, both Republicans. The proposed legislation creates a new crime, "Aggravated Arson," to be charged when a fire is set with intent to injure a person or if the building is occupied. Increased prison time would be imposed when someone is injured, the fire impacts multiple victims or causes more than $1 million in damage. In 2008 Irene Kempest, a Holocaust survivor, died as a result of an arson fire. George Donkewicz was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for setting five fires, including the one that killed 83-year-old Kempst. He said voices compelled him to set the fires. The bill now moves to the Pennsylvania House.


Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149, mschaefer@phillynews.com or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

 

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