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Veteran’s PTSD caused him to burn down his neighbor’s garage, lawyer says

Firefighters wrap up operations at a two-story commercial garage fire Friday, July 12, 2019, alongside the Willow Grove Hotel at 655 Man St. in Freemansburg. (Kurt Bresswein | For lehighvalleylive.com/TNS)
September 06, 2020

A 20-year U.S. military veteran set his Freemansburg neighbor’s garage on fire as a result of his post-traumatic stress disorder, according to his attorney.

Attorney Steven Mills said Alan Davis was sentenced Monday to seven years’ probation after he previously pleaded guilty but mentally ill to arson.

“He has significant mental health and medical issues related to his combat,” Mills said Monday.

Davis, 62, was trying to burn ants on July 12, 2019, when he set fire to the two-story garage on the Willow Grove Hotel property at 655 Main St. in Freemansburg, according to police. Mills said it’s not clear whether there were any ants there.

Mills said Davis didn’t intend to set the garage on fire. He was honorably discharged from the military and has never been in trouble with the law, Mills said.

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Three firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the fire, police said.

Mills said the seven-year probationary sentence will give Davis the time he needs to chip away at the $28,000-plus he needs to raise to pay off the damage to the garage.

Mills said Northampton County Judge Jennifer Sletvold also ordered Davis to continue his mental health treatment as well as keep up with his medical issues.

He said Assistant District Attorney Abigail Bellafatto did not oppose the sentence. Bellafatto wasn’t immediately available for comment Monday morning.

“Mental health is a serious thing. I think that’s what led (Davis) to where he is,” Mills said. “I don’t think he’ll be in trouble ever again.”

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(c) 2020 The Express-Times
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