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Prisoner challenges sentence for huge blast

February 19. 2013 11:31PM
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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? An Exeter man is challenging his 8-to-16-year prison sentence on charges he set fire to his home that caused an explosion that damaged 55 other homes, three businesses and an elementary school more than three years ago.

David Lamoreaux, 46, claimed he was highly medicated and suffering from depression when he was sentenced by Luzerne County Judge Tina Gartley on July 20, 2010. Lamoreaux said he mistrusted his court-appointed attorney from the Luzerne County Public Defender‚??s Office when told he would receive a sentence of only 22 months to 36 months.

Instead, Gartley sentenced Lamoreaux to eight to 16 years. He is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh.

Court records say Lamoreaux called his estranged wife, Deborah, several times, asking her to come to his house on Penn Street, Exeter, on Aug. 1, 2009.

Investigators alleged Lamoreaux poured and sprayed gasoline throughout the house and garage that ignited, causing an explosion that damaged houses, businesses and the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in a three-block radius.

A week before the explosion, police said, Deborah Lamoreaux and her friend, Christopher Pack, assaulted David Lamoreaux at the Penn Avenue house, according to court records.

Pack, 47, of Pittston, was sentenced to 18 months house arrest and Deborah Lamoreaux was sentenced to six months probation on simple assault charges.

Lamoreaux also was ordered to pay $265,722 in restitution cost for damage, hospital and insurance bills.

According to Lamoreaux‚??s post-conviction relief petition that was recently denied, he claimed his public defender, John Sobota, told him he would be sentenced to 22 months to 36 months. He claimed he was medicated and suffered depression when he appeared before Gartley, who, imposed the 8-to-16-year prison sentence.

Lamoreaux said the explosion was not a violent act of arson but an accident in a failed suicide attempt.

He spent several months in a medically induced coma at Lehigh Valley Burn Center in Allentown after the explosion.

He filed an appeal to the state Superior Court alleging his sentence is too severe.

Edward Lewis, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7196.

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