By Aimee Hancock
TROY — A Troy man was sentenced on Thursday to a minimum of five years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated arson and domestic violence.
Brian C. Smith pleaded guilty by bill of information last month to aggravated arson, a felony of the second degree, and to domestic violence, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
The charges stem from an incident in June of this year when Smith’s apartment in Troy, which he shared with his then-girlfriend, caught fire. Following an investigation, firefighters found evidence of arson, and police observed evidence of abuse on behalf of his girlfriend.
Smith, 48, was sentenced by Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt Thursday, who noted several of his past offenses, which include receiving stolen property, grand theft, and burglary.
Prior to handing down the sentence, Pratt spoke briefly of the victims in this case, including Smith’s girlfriend, landlord and neighbors, stating they suffered serious “physical, psychological, and economic” harm.
“Your actions in this case are irresponsible, irrational, and I believe, intentional,” she said. “You put your girlfriend—your fiance—in harm’s way, you put the neighboring properties in harm’s way, and you put yourself in harm’s way.”
Pratt told Smith due to his previous offenses, he would not be eligible for parole before serving five years behind bars. He was also sentenced to six months in jail for domestic violence, which will be served concurrent to his prison term. He was given 101 days of jail credit. Smith may remain in bars for up to seven and a half years, Pratt said. Following release, Smith will be subjected to a mandatory three years of post-release control and will be required to register as an arson offender annually for the remainder of his life.
On June 12, 2021, Troy police and firefighters responded to an apartment building on the 1200 block of Wayne Street for a reported structure fire. According to the 911 caller, an apartment, shared by Smith and his girlfriend, was observed with fire coming from the window. According to a responding firefighter and arson investigator, the fire almost immediately appeared suspicious.
While on scene, officers interviewed Smith, who said he and his girlfriend were winding down from a day of drinking when he began cooking a pizza in the oven, which subsequently caused a towel to catch fire.
When police spoke with the initial witness who called 911, the witness stated the couple could be heard arguing prior to the fire. The witness also noted the fire “happened way too quickly” to be caused by making a pizza.
When interviewed later, according to a police report, Smith changed some details of his story, stating he had actually been cooking steak, not pizza, when the fire occurred, though he said he was not completely sure because he had been drinking.
During the arson investigation, firefighters noted the oven appeared to be clean, and it was eventually determined that the fire began in the living room area as “the result of a human act.”
During the interviews with Smith’s girlfriend, officers noted she had several bruises on her face. As for the fire, the girlfriend claimed she did not know how it started as she was lying down in a bedroom when it occurred.
When confronted about the inconsistencies in his story, Smith admitted to officers that he had started the fire by lighting the curtain sheers in the dining room on fire with a lighter, stating the fire was “instantly out of control.”
Given that results of the arson investigation showed the fire appeared to have actually been started in the living room, Smith was asked if it was possible he set fire to curtain sheers in multiple rooms. Smith said he did not remember doing that, though it is possible he did so and forgot due to his intoxication level. Accelerant detection canines on the scene alerted to accelerants having been used, though Smith denied using any when setting the fire.