Although a convicted Gardnerville arsonist will have to serve another six months in jail, a judge lessened his charge this week so he could pursue a military career.
As a condition of probation, a judge ordered Harley Hook to serve nine months in jail with credit for time served.
For one count of attempted arson, a felony conviction would have ended Hook's military dreams, but Douglas District Court Judge David Gamble prevented that Tuesday by sentencing him for a gross misdemeanor.
A felony conviction could prevent service in any branch of the military.
Hook and David Scott Killen, both 18, started 12 fires in November 2002 in the counties of Douglas, Washoe, Storey and Alpine, Calif. Both teens are Gardnerville residents.
Hook applied to join the Marine Corps before he was arrested.
Before his sentencing, he stood before the judge, his tears falling heavier and heavier as he spoke.
"I'd like to apologize to the firefighters, policemen and people involved in this," Hook said. "I've been in jail for 90 days and I've had a lot of time to think about what I did. I am 18. I'm an adult now. I know I did it. I'm responsible and there are consequences for it."
The Douglas County District Attorney's Office pressed for a felony conviction because the fires could have spread and caused significant damage.
Deputy District Attorney Mike McCormick argued Harley's admitted fascination with fire would be better monitored by a felony conviction with a five-year probation period than a misdemeanor conviction with a three-year probation period.
"I hate seeing kids, juveniles, come back here as adults," Gamble said. "It would be the order of the court to treat this as a misdemeanor .... I've done this so you can pursue a military career."