Teenage arsonist sentenced to at least 7 years in prison

In Delhi today, Delaware County Acting Supreme Court Justice John F. Lambert delivered a lengthy prison sentence to East Meredith resident Cody D. Fancher for his 2009 fire-setting spree that destroyed the Sidney Center United Methodist Church.

Fancher’s attorney, Michael Jacobs of Stamford, asked for leniency prior to sentencing. Fancher was acquitted of two counts of arson after a jury trial on March 11, 2011 and found guilty of the nineteen remaining charges.

"[The jury] found him not guilty of the most dastardly of issues and the highest degree of crime,” Jacobs told the judge in a bid for a light sentence.

He contended that Fancher's involvement in the arson spree was simply that of a “tag-a-long," and that Donald “DJ” Aitken, who was sentenced from 19 to 57 years in prison in April, was the mastermind behind the crimes.  Jacobs then claimed that Aitken committed perjury during his plea before Hon. Michael V. Coccoma.

Jacobs did not deny Fancher’s presence during the commission of the crimes, but asked the court to take note of Fancher’s age, which was under the age of 17 when the crimes were committed, and the fact that alcohol was consumed before each of the crimes was committed.

Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup remarked to the court, “They [Fancher and Aitken] were thrill-seekers. They got a charge out of committing crimes to see what they could get away with. The began by starting fires in remote fields, then vandalizing construction equipment and structures, and then inexplicably, a church. ”

The arsons caused over one million dollars in damages.

A member of the Sidney Center United Methodist Church addressed the court and Fancher at sentencing:

"I feel he should get the maximum sentence that the law will allow because of all the lives that he has disrupted. The church was a structure that existed for 116 years and can never be replaced. We could forgive you if we could rebuild our church and move on, but we are dealing with two monsters, [those] of you who lit the match, and those who are denying us the opportunity to worship in our own church.”

Judge Lambert addressed Fancher before he imposed the sentence.

“Your inability to take responsibility for your actions, even after all this time has passed, speaks volumes," Lambert said. "You left an entire community stunned and searching for answers. Crimes like this shock the conscience. I find that you are a danger to the community.”

Fancher was sentenced for nineteen different crimes ranging from reckless endangerment and trespass to arson in the third degree. Each of the prison sentences are consecutive. Fancher will spend a minimum of 7 years in state prison and a maximum of 101 years. Once released from state prison, Fancher will be required to serve 10 years post release supervision or parole.

Lambert also ordered Fancher to make restitution to the various victims, including the Krupka Family, Delaware County Bulldozing, Delaware County, the Anamorato Family, Puma Family, the Clark Company, and others, totaling $775,412.84. Crime Victims Assistance Fees of $4,220.00, surcharges totaling $300.00, and multiple DNA sampling fees of $50.00 were also imposed. Orders of protection were also issued for each of the victims of the crimes.

At the conclusion of sentencing, Attorney Michael Jacobs immediately filed a Notice of Appeal with the Court.

Lillian Browne is a farmer, writer and self-described adventure seeker who lives with her husband and three daughters in Walton. Browne covers town meetings for the Walton Reporter and pens a column, "Foible in the Fairytale," for the Delaware County Times.