TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas State University student who set a fire that killed a university researcher has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sentenced 20-year-old Manhattan, Kan., resident Patrick Martin Scahill on Monday for starting the Feb. 6 fire at Lee Crest Apartments in Manhattan that killed 34-year-old Vasanta Pallem.
Scahill admitted he started the fire as a diversion that would prevent police from finding evidence in his residence of an armed robbery and drugs.
Robinson also sentenced 20-year-old Virginia Amanda Griese of Manhattan to 20 years for her role in the fire.
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In her guilty plea, Griese admitted buying a 5-gallon gas can and filling it with 4.7 gallons of fuel that Scahill dumped in the apartment complex’s lower-level hallway and ignited.