Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Cobb man sentenced for September arson case

LAKEPORT – A Cobb man was sentenced to six months in jail for setting fire to his home in September.


Judge Richard Martin sentenced Richard David Blount, 58, to 180 days in jail and ordered that he pay $1,000 in restitution.


Blount will receive 135 days of credit for time served and good behavior since his September arrest. Martin waived a fine of $12,341 due to financial hardship.


Sheriff's deputies arrested Blount on Sept. 4 after he was found attempting to set a fire and trying to obstruct firefighters who arrived at the scene to fight the fire, which burned a residence and an acre of wildland in the area of Observation Road and Loch Lomond Road, as Lake County News has reported.


Blount, allegedly found trying to light matches at the fire line, struggled with deputies and also allegedly threatened to kill one of them, according to the original sheriff's report.


At the time of his arrest, officials hadn't determined Blount's role in the fire, but he eventually was charged with burning down the residence in which he lived, owned by his father, it was reported in court on Friday.


Court records showed that Blount was charged in September with three felony counts – unlawfully and recklessly setting fire to a structure, unlawfully and maliciously setting fire to a structure and attempting by threat to deter an officer from performing their duty. He pleaded guilty to the first charge, and the second two were dismissed last month.


On Friday, Blount's attorney, David Markham, argued that the remaining charge against Blount is a wobbler – an offense that can be charged either as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Saying the charge was more appropriate as a misdemeanor, Markham filed a 17b motion to have the charge reduced.


Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said if the charge was reduced they wouldn't be able to work with Blount on his mental health issues.


Markham argued that Blount had no history of setting fires. The home belonged to Blount's father and his own dog died in the blaze.


“I think there were some mental health issues that contributed to this,” said Markham.


He also didn't think 180 days in jail was necessary, although Hinchcliff called that sentence “appropriate.”


Judge Martin said that, while reducing the charge may be appropriate based on Blount's lack of a prior record, he wasn't comfortable with making it a misdemeanor until Blount successfully completely his probation.


Martin said Blount was making bizarre statements at the scene and attempting to light fires behind the firefighters.


“It could have cost someone their life, so I see this as a highly dangerous situation,” he said.


Cobb Mountain is a wooded area, and the fire could have endangered others. “The consequences went far beyond the burning down of his dad's house,” said Martin, who considered probation also appropriate due to Blount's lack of a prior record.


He said that Blount has had mental health issues, but he's working on them – including using medication – and is a different person now.


Martin then gave him the 180-day sentence with credit for time served and good behavior. He said the sentence is meant to send a message to Blount about the importance of maintaining his treatment and medications.


Hinchcliff said Blount faces a potential prison sentence of four years if he violates his felony probation.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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