Ellis Library arsonist sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison

Thursday, January 23, 2014 | 8:59 p.m. CST; updated 9:28 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 23, 2014

COLUMBIA — A federal judge sentenced the Columbia man who started the 2011 fire in MU's Ellis Library to serve 6 1/2 years in prison and pay $591,114 in damages, according to a media release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Christopher C. Kelley, 28, was sentenced for two counts of arson. He will not be eligible for parole, according to the media release.

One count of arson was for lighting fires in 10 places around the library in September 2011. The second count was for setting fire to a classroom in Stephens College's Audrey Webb Child Study Center in May 2011.

“We did ask for a higher sentence than the recommended 63 to 78 months, but nothing specific,” public affairs officer Don Ledford said.

The smoke, water and fire damage to the library was estimated to cost between $750,000 and $1 million, according to previous reporting in the Missourian. Damage to the Stephens facility was estimated to cost about $55,000.

Between $60,000 and $75,000 of damage was done to the State Historical Society of Missouri, which is in the basement of the library.

According to previous reporting, the library remained closed for two days following the fires.

U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips sentenced Kelley.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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