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Sioux City man sentenced to 30 years prison for setting apartment fire that led to woman's death

Sioux City man sentenced to 30 years prison for setting apartment fire that led to woman's death

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SIOUX CITY -- Going into his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Robert Mahoney knew he'd be sentenced to either 25 or 30 years in prison for setting the fire that led to the death of Wanda Blake.

District Judge Patrick Tott chose 30 years, ordering the 25-year sentence for first-degree arson and the five years for involuntary manslaughter to be served consecutively, or back to back. Both actions were separate crimes and deserved to be punished as such, Tott said, adding that Mahoney's lengthy criminal record also factored in his decision.

"It's fortunate no deaths were caused (by Mahoney) before this," Tott said.

A Woodbury County District Court jury in March found Mahoney, 52, of Sioux City, guilty of setting a Feb. 4, 2018, fire at his apartment complex. Firefighters responding to the blaze found Blake unconscious in a hallway, and she was treated at a hospital for smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. Blake, 51, died three weeks later at a Sioux City hospital after spending several days in intensive care before being released to a rehabilitation facility.

A medical examiner testified that blood clots that developed in Blake's legs traveled to her lungs, causing her death. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Mahoney told Tott he didn't start the fire with the intent of harming anyone.

"I'm sorry for what happened," Mahoney said before Tott sentenced him.

Under state law, Mahoney also must pay $150,000 in restitution to Blake's estate.

Assistant Woodbury County Attorney James Loomis had argued for the longer sentence. He said the two charges stemmed from separate crimes, and Mahoney has a criminal history dating back some 30 years.

"This defendant is dangerous to this community, and he should be locked away as long as possible," Loomis said.

Public defender Billy Oyadare had asked Tott to order the sentences be served concurrently for a total sentence of 25 years.

Mahoney told police he was bored when he set a small fire in his apartment with bug spray and a lighter. When the fire went out, Mahoney became angry, doused papers on a table with bug spray and set a second fire, which blazed out of control and damaged several units at Central Apartments, 613 11th St.

Oyadare had argued at trial that Mahoney suffers from chronic mental illnesses, and a psychiatrist testified that Mahoney set the fire impulsively and had no intent to cause harm.

Before sentencing Mahoney, Tott denied Oyadare's motion for a new trial.

Copyright 2019 The Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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