January 5, 2010 in Idaho

Idaho man who set co-worker ablaze gets probation

Associated Press

POCATELLO, Idaho — A man who set his co-worker on fire in July has been sentenced to five years of probation after the victim forgave him.

Judge Stephen Dunn of the 6th District Court sentenced Jeremy Ulrich, 31, of Pocatello, to probation Monday after a letter from the victim convinced him it was the right way to resolve the case.

Pocatello pleaded guilty in November to felony aggravated battery for spraying his co-worker at an auto body shop with a caustic solvent, then setting him ablaze with a minitorch.

Ulrich had told investigators that he and the victim were engaged in horseplay at the time of the incident. The victim told the State Journal that was untrue.

In his letter, however, the victim told the judge he no longer believed Ulrich deliberately injured him and that the incident wasn’t the result of malicious intent.

“It sways me,” Dunn said during the sentencing, but he still had harsh words for Ulrich’s actions.

“You made a deliberate choice to put a flammable material on someone else and put a fire to it,” the judge said. “That’s not the kind of conduct that’s true horseplay. It’s time to grow up.”

If Ulrich successfully completes probation, he could have the felony expunged from his permanent record.

The judge left open for 30 days the possibility of claims for restitution. The victim’s family said his medical bills have been paid from worker’s compensation insurance.

Ulrich, who was fired from the body shop after the incident, said he thinks often about his victim’s horrific injuries. The now 19-year-old victim has undergone extensive skin grafts to his lower body.

“I’m sorry for hurting him,” Ulrich said. “I can’t say how sorry I am.”

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