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Nineteen-year-old Waylon Verley of Norwich, who had no criminal record before he went on a crime spree with two other men in the fall of 2011, was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday in New London Superior Court.
Verley's mother watched the sentencing from one side of the courtroom, and a visiting group of students from Waterford High School observed from the other side of the room as Verley, wearing tan prison scrubs, apologized for his crimes.
"I, Waylon Verley, just want to say I'm sorry for the crimes I've committed and the suffering I've caused," he said. "... I will stop my life of crime and drugs and try to make up for my past by doing things right."
At an earlier court hearing, he pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, three counts of third-degree burglary and third-degree arson.
Verley and two other teens burglarized homes in Norwich, Preston and Old Lyme and traveled to pawn shops throughout New England to sell the items, according to testimony.
They set fire to a shed at a Saunders Hollow Road, Old Lyme, home in order to conceal evidence of their thefts and used "Molotov cocktails," or glass bottles stuffed with gasoline and rags, to set fire to the pickup truck of a Groton teen who they said had ripped them off in a marijuana deal.
One of his co-defendants, Safi Kachmar, 19, was sentenced last month to 42 months in prison. A third teen was treated as a youthful offender, and his case was resolved confidentially.
Prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla had recommended a four-year prison sentence for Verley but acknowledged Verley had made a detailed confession to police and was "entitled to some consideration" in light of the fact that Kachmar had received a reduced sentence.
Public Defender Bruce A. Sturman said it was Verley's statement that "made the case for the police." He said Verley, who had played football for Norwich Free Academy but dropped out during his senior year, has passed his GED since going to prison and is working to become an automotive mechanic.
In the Norwich burglary, the police said the teens bludgeoned the homeowners' 200-pound bull mastiff with a hatchet and sprayed bleach in its face. The dog had to be euthanized. Both Kachmar and Verley denied assaulting the dog, but Verley, in his statement to the court, said he wanted to apologize to the homeowner "on behalf of the codefendant."
"I didn't hit the dog, and I wouldn't do such a thing," Verley said. "I am an animal lover." Judge Susan B. Handy credited Verley for cooperating with the investigation and said he was an intelligent man who could do better.
"There is a significant price to pay, however," she said. "You are going to leave here with five felony convictions that are going to follow you for the rest of your life."
As part of their sentences, Verley and the other co-defendants are being ordered to repay the victims a total of $49,000.
— Karen Florin