Bear Fire arsonist gets 27 years

SANTA CRUZ — The man who started a fire in 2017 that scorched 331 acres, destroyed two homes, four outbuildings, 17 vehicles and five RVs was sentenced Thursday to more than 27 years in prison.

Marlon Dale Coy, 56, was also sentenced for shooting a dog in the days before the Bear Fire, which scorched 10 acres in Boulder Creek in November 2018.

Additionally, Coy received prison time for looting one of the houses that was vacated by residents fleeing the blaze.

Coy has been in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail since a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy saw him riding a bike, wearing clothes and carrying jewelry in a backpack, all taken from the looted home.

He pleaded guilty to the charges on May 2.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Ariadne Symons called Coy an “extreme danger to society.”

Symons also ordered Coy to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution to CalFire for fighting the fire, and $175,475 to cover medical costs. Thirteen firefighters were injured while battling the fire. He was also ordered to pay restitution to property owners who suffered losses in the fire.

While Coy is unlikely to be able to pay off that amount, state prison officials will take it “piecemeal” from his prison account and from his earnings if he gets a prison job, said Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Michael McKinney, who described Coy’s actions as “egregious crimes.”

“This is something that is very concerning for our community,” McKinney said. “He put a lot of lives at risk. We were very fortunate that the fire was contained to the level that it was.”

In total, Coy received 27 years, four months in prison. He gets 679 days of credit for time he has spent in custody. He declined to make a statement before he was sentenced.


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