A convicted arsonist was found guilty by a jury today, after a seven-day trial in federal court in Cedar Rapids, of starting three fires, one of which injured a firefighter.
Shawn Gant, age 40, from West Union, Iowa, was convicted of three counts of arson. The verdict was returned this afternoon following about two and one-half hours of jury deliberations.
The evidence at trial showed that, on July 5, 2009, Gant set fire to a rental home in Independence, Iowa, where he had been staying with friends. On October 10, 2009, Gant set on fire to a rental home in Fayette, Iowa, occupied by the mother of Gant's child. On May 7, 2010, Gant set fire to his apartment located in the West Charles Mall building in Oelwein, Iowa. The fire, stoked by strong winds, grew out of control and destroyed the entire building, along with an adjoining building. While attempting to suppress the fire, a firefighter suffered minor injuries when a flash-over occurred.
In 2002, Gant was previously convicted of two counts of arson in the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County. Gant also admitted starting a car fire in Decorah in 2002, and an apartment fire in Oelwein in 2004. The apartment fire destroyed a building.
Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Gant remains in custody, having been convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in April 2011 for sending a text message to a former girlfriend threatening to burn down her home. Gant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years' imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 80 years' imprisonment, a $750,000 fine, $300 in special assessments, and 15 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys C.J. Williams and Anthony Morfitt. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Iowa State Fire Marshal Division, Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, the police departments and fire departments for the cities of Calmar, Decorah, Fayette, Independence, Oelwein, and St. Lucas, and the Bucanan County Sheriff's Office.
Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is 11-CR-2042.