Mark Garrison Of Casper Found Guilty Of Arson; Labeled As Habitual Criminal
The verdict is in for a Casper man accused of intentionally burning down his ex-wife's trailer home.
A jury has found Mark Garrison guilty on one charge of first degree arson, and has labeled him as a habitual criminal.
Investigators with Casper Fire EMS say in late December 2013, a mobile home on 92 Yucca Circle was destroyed by a fire, and it was later determined that it was intentionally set.
Kathe Garrison was living in the home at the time, but was not there when the fire occurred.
She told investigators that she had been threatened numerous times by her estranged husband, Mark, that he was going to burn her house down with her in it, and kill her.
Before the fire, she had left the dog chained outside, and it was not there when she returned.
There was no evidence that the dog had broken loose.
An ex-friend of Mark told investigators that earlier on the day of the fire, he said he saw Mark take a five-gallon gas can and leave.
He testified in court that he saw the gas can the next day, and there wasn't as much gas inside compared to the day before.
The ex-friend said Mark had stated the house was going to burn down anyhow, because of bad wiring.
When interviewed by police, Mark stated he was in Sweetwater County at the time, but he could not provide times of arrival or an account of his travel, and stated he had reason to believe an electric water heater was improperly wired, and that it may have been the cause of the fire.
An investigation later determined that was not the case, and that the fire started on the front porch/front door area.
A neighbor testified in court that the fire was on the front porch and going into the trailer.
A neighboring house on Yucca Circle had a security camera, and the video showed a person walking nearby, then about 20 minutes later the same person walking the other way with a dog, and then about one minute later, the glow of the fire could be seen.
The defense argued that the person in the camera couldn't be identified, because it was dark and snowing at the time, plus a gas can couldn't be seen.
Natrona County prosecutors said in their opening statements that the arson was an act of revenge and also mentioned that Mark pleaded guilty to violating a protection order on four different occasions (1 time before, and 3 times after the fire).
Garrison has prior felony convictions of interference with a peace officer (2002) and escape (2004), hence the habitual criminal label.
He is being held without bond and will be sentenced at a later date.
Normally, first degree arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but because of the habitual criminal label, Garrison faces an enhanced penalty of 10-50 years in prison.