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.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
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.