Crime

Murrells Inlet man admits guilt, sentenced to five years in prison for business fires

A 21-year-old Murrells Inlet man admitted he started seven fires at area businesses and asked for mental health help before a Circuit Court Judge ordered him to serve five years in prison for the crimes.

Ryan Patrick Casiere pleaded guilty Wednesday to seven counts of third-degree arson before Judge Roger E. Henderson in Conway. Henderson sentenced Casiere to seven years in prison on each charge, but suspended that sentence to five years in prison and two years on probation.

A special condition of Casiere’s probation was to receive mental health counseling during that time after his release from prison, Henderson said. The sentences will run concurrently.

“A five-year active sentence as long as you behave then two years to get some help,” Henderson said.

The sentence was shorter than what Josh Holford, an assistant 15th Circuit solicitor prosecuting the case, recommended. Holford recommended six years in prison on each charge, which has a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Casiere pleaded guilty to setting fires at the following businesses on these dates:

▪ Dec. 3 a 15-foot cargo box truck at American Mattress

▪ March 21 a flatbed truck at South Strand Landscaping

▪ March 27 a flatbed tow truck at Rott’s Tire and Auto

▪ March 27 a dumpster at Bed Man and another dumpster on April 24 at Dr. Sattele’s Weight Loss and a separate one at Powerhouse Bar and Grill

▪ April 24 a house under construction by D.R. Horton

Authorities arrested Casiere after security cameras caught footage of him at Dr. Sattele’s Weight Loss setting a fire, Holford said.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Casiere and his attorney, J.M. “Buddy” Long III, said the man suffers from some anxiety and compulsive disorders and has so from an early age.

Casiere was born in New Jersey, but moved to the Grand Strand with his parents about 12 years ago. Casiere’s parents did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, but Long said they support their son and recognize his need for help.

Casiere had been living with his parents in the Murrells Inlet area, but had also lived on his own after he quit school in the 10th grade, Long said. He also noted that Casiere could not voice to him how setting the fires helped him with the mental health issues.

Since being arrested April 24, Casiere has been given some medication at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center that has assisted him with his anxiety, Long said.

In discussing Holford’s recommendation for prison, Long said he was concerned that Casiere would not get any mental health counseling while in prison and asked that the judge to add that recommendation.

“He can’t describe really what it is. It’s obviously a problem he is going to need some help with,” Long said during the hearing. “He’s not going to receive any help in S.C.D.C.”

Casiere became upset and emotional briefly before he told Henderson that “I agree with that, I do need help.”

Casiere had no prior arrests before being charged in the fires.

None of the business owners or representatives where the fires occurred attended Wednesday’s hearing.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.

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