Hanover man pleads guilty to several arson fires

Christopher Dornblaser

When Derek Graham pleaded guilty to arson Thursday, he was read the list of nearly 20 people or insurance companies he owes about $72,000 in total once he leaves prison.

"You better get yourself a good job when you get out — you have a ton of restitution," Judge Harry Ness said to Graham.

Graham, 22, of 47 McAllister St., Hanover,  pleaded guilty to starting several fires in the Hanover area in May 2015.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of arson, danger of death or injury, four counts of arson with intent to destroy unoccupied building and one count of criminal mischief. He will serve five to 10 years in state prison and will receive credit for time served since May 21, 2015. He must begin to pay restitution once he is released from prison.

He will receive a mental health evaluation while in prison.

The background: Hanover Police say that about 1 p.m. May 21, 2015, they were called to 530 Fulton St., where Graham had just set a car on fire, throwing fuel on the vehicle in a carport attached to a home where three people were staying.

While in police custody, Graham admitted to setting seven additional fires in the Hanover area between May 5 and May 21, 2015, ranging from trash fires to structure fires, documents state.

During his plea, he told Ness he used a lighter and gasoline to set the fires.

Once arrested, he remained in York County Prison in lieu of $250,000.

Derek Graham

"He's a good kid; something just went haywire," Graham's defense attorney, Rick Robinson, said after the hearing. He said many of the structures affected by the fires Graham set did not have anyone in them at the time.

"Obviously it was a great inconvenience to those people," Robinson said.

Robinson asked Ness to recommend Graham be taken to an institution that could properly take care of his mental health issues.

Graham had been charged with attempted homicide, but that was withdrawn in a pre-trial conference in December 2015.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.