Serial Arsonist Convicted in Federal Court
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A serial arsonist was found guilty Tuesday by a jury in federal court following a seven day trial for starting three fires, one of which injured an Oelwein firefighter.
Shawn Gant, 40, of West Union, was found guilty of three counts of arson in U.S. District Court. The jury returned the verdict Tuesday after two and a half hours of deliberations. The trial started last Monday. Gant faces a mandatory minimum of 17 and up to 80 years in federal prison with a maximum fine of $750,000.
Evidence at trial showed Gant set fire to a rental home in Independence, July 5, 2009 where he stayed with friends, Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams said. On October 10, 2009, Gant set fire to a rental home in Fayette, which was occupied by the mother of Gant's child. The third fire was set May 7, 2010 in an apartment Gant lived in the West Charles Mall building in Oelwein.
The Oelwein fire, stoked by strong winds, went out of control and destroyed the entire building, along with an adjoining building, according to testimony. The Oelwein firefighter suffered a minor burn to his hand and had breathing problems when a flashover occurred.
In 2002, Gant was previously convicted of two counts of arson in Winneshiek District Court and he admitted to starting a car fire in Decorah in 2002 and an apartment fire in Oelwein in 2004. The apartment fire destroyed a building.
Most recently, Gant was convicted in 2011 for threatening to blow up a building in Independence where his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend lived in 2010. He was already serving 10 years in federal prison.
Sentencing hasn't been set at this time.
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