A man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury convicted him of setting a woman’s home and car on fire after she rejected his unwanted advances.
Jerel Jay Wilson, 29, of Union City, Georgia was found guilty of simple battery and first- and second-degree arson in the attacks, which began Sept. 11, 2018, officials said.
According to Cobb prosecutors, Wilson broke into the woman’s apartment, burned her bedroom, followed her and physically attacked her after she spurned his advances.
“In 2018, jealousy and rejection left a path of destruction,” Assistant District Attorney Jared Horowitz, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement.
Authorities said on Sept. 10, Wilson had been texting the woman about her new boyfriend.
“On the morning of the 11th, he texted her a picture of the Twin Towers on fire from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” Horowitz said.
That same day, Wilson broke into the woman’s apartment while she and her roommate were at work and started a fire in her bedroom, the district attorney said. Then, he stole her television, Horowitz said.
The blaze left the woman’s apartment entirely destroyed.
Weeks later, the woman unintentionally dialed Wilson’s number while she was driving a friend to the InTown Suites on Highlands Parkway, Horowitz said. After he received her call, Wilson drove there and attacked the woman, and set her car on fire.
“In both instances, security footage, the defendant’s phone, and a GPS device on his vehicle placed him at the crime scenes at the time of the arsons,” Horowitz said.
“Investigators from the Smyrna Fire Marshal’s Office also found a pawn ticket showing Wilson had pawned the stolen television on the same day it was stolen. The investigation further revealed that after the second fire, Wilson sent the woman a text saying, ‘I apologize.’”
A superior court judge sentenced Wilson over the weekend, citing his “lack of concern and insight for his conduct.” In addition to 20 years behind bars, Wilson will have to serve 10 years on probation and follow a permanent protective order prohibiting him from having any contact with the victim.