Man sentenced in attempted arson

A man will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty to setting a small fire at the home of his ex in Greenwood.

Rodney D. Morris, 54, Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of arson.

He was sentenced to spend a year in jail and will serve his sentence at the Johnson County jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

Morris was arrested last year after investigators got the results of lab testing on a fire set at a home on Pearl Street in Greenwood in 2015.

The home was where Morris’ ex lived at the time, and Morris had sent a threatening letter days before, saying he wished his ex was dead, police said at the time.

In August 2015, a small fire at the home caused $1,000 to $2,000 in damage, and a resident gave police a plate number to a vehicle driven by Morris seen in the area, and Morris matched the description of a man seen near the home before the fire was discovered.

Fire investigators found two spots where a fire was set at the home, including a piece of the frame of the home, where the neighbor put out the flames. A second spot, at the back door of the home, had burned out.

Investigators had to test some of the items found near where the blaze started, including paper and cardboard. Lab test results came back a few months later, showing that a petroleum product, such as motor oil, was on the items tested. Investigators previously had searched Morris’ vehicle and found an empty oil container inside, the police report said.

Morris told police he did stop by the Greenwood home the night of the fire to get water for his vehicle, which was overheating. He had a letter for his ex in his pocket and told police that letter must have fallen out of his pocket and been set on fire when he discarded a cigarette, the report said.

Morris was sentenced last month and had credit for about two months of time already served. Under recently changed state law, an offender convicted of the lowest level felony and serving a sentence of less than a year will typically serve their time in the county jail, instead of a state prison.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.