Updated 1:30 pm Friday
Our report on the sentencing and the effort to change the state Arson statute.
Updated 5:30 pm Thursday
Brian Bermudez was sentenced Thursday afternoon in Cortland County Court.
Judge Julie Campbell sentenced Bermudez under terms of a plea agreement reached with the Cortland County District Attorney.
Bermudez was sentenced to eight years in state prison, plus five years of post-release supervision on the charge of possession of a controlled substance. He was given a 5-15 year sentence – to be served concurrently – for manslaughter. He pleaded guilty to both felony charges in October.
Bermudez was making methamphetamine in a Main Street Homer apartment on September 2, 2016. The process resulted in an explosion and fire that killed his 81-year old neighbor, Dewayne Block.
At sentencing, Bermudez read from a letter to the court, saying how sorry he was and how much he missed Block, whom he called a friend. He apologized, also saying he was sorry for the pain he caused to the Block family, his family, and for burning down the historic building.
Following the sentencing, Homer Police Officer Christopher Parrow told X101 News he wished Bermudez could have received more prison time.
Parrow and County Police Officer Brandon Eckes-Conway were first on the scene that night, and went into the burning structure. They tried to rescue Block, but were forced out by the intense heat and smoke from the chemically-fueled fire.
Homer Police Chief Robert Pitman has written to State Senator James Seward to see if the statute for arson can be changed, particularly in cases like this that involve the burning of dangerous chemicals from activities such as meth-making.
Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti told reporters that he supports the the effort to revise arson statues.