Daryl Chrystyn Cotner of Brookings was sentenced earlier this week to 21 to 22 months in prison for first-degree arson after burning up a rental truck and recycling bins and attempting to start fires near the Brookings Inn Resort in mid-July.
According to assistant district attorney Carly Kruse, Cotner was caught on video in the area before the fires were reported.
He started fires behind a fenced area near the hotel, and an employee’s vehicle was found in the parking lot with its gas cap off. A 55-gallon recycling bin was destroyed and an adjacent one melted in that fire.
Fire investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined Cotner also tried to start a wooden deck there on fire, as was evident by char marks on the wood and burned paper and trash in the area.
The last fire for which he was convicted destroyed a U-Haul rental truck. Cotner stuffed paper in and around the tire and lighted it; the tire exploded and the fire spread to the passenger and engine compartments.
“The fire marshall said there was nothing about the truck that would have indicated it could have started on its own,” Kruse said.
Cotner, 33, faced two charges of first-degree arson and criminal mischief, and one each of second-degree arson, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person.
One first-degree arson, the second-degree arson and a criminal mischief charge were dismissed.
He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 18 months probation on the first-degree arson charge; that sentence will run consecutively with an 21- to 22-month prison term. He was also sentenced to 20 days in jail and a fine of $1,400 on the first-degree criminal mischief charge, and is not permitted to have fire-starting materials in his possession.
“The evidence put him at the scene; it was evident that it was him,” Kruse said. “Witnesses who watched the video were able to identify him. We wanted to make sure the sentence held him accountable.”