ELLSWORTH – A wad of crumpled tissue lay on a courtroom table near the hands of a Sedgwick woman as she learned Wednesday she will spend the next four years behind bars for arson.
Amber Yurchick, 20, was sentenced by Justice Kevin Cuddy in Hancock County Superior Court to nine years in prison with all but four suspended. She could have received up to 30 years in prison.
“As I look at this defendant, my sense is that we’re looking at a young person who has not received appropriate direction in her life,” Cuddy said during sentencing. “The issue for me that is more important is what will happen to her in the future.”
A jury convicted Yurchick in July of setting fire in October 2006 to a Sedgwick home that she once shared with a boyfriend.
The home on Old County Road, which was owned by a local couple and rented to Yurchick’s ex-boyfriend, was destroyed by the quick-moving blaze. Investigators later determined the fire originated from a bed inside the home and that it was set.
Witnesses testified at her trial that Yurchick acted out of revenge over the fact that her former boyfriend was seeing someone else.
Yurchick admitted she was upset and that she went to her ex-boyfriend’s home to confront him, but she said her brother, Michael Yurchick, 33, actually started the fire.
Initially, both siblings were charged with Class A arson, along with several lesser charges. Shortly before their trials were scheduled to begin, however, Michael Yurchick accepted a deal with prosecutors to testify against his sister in exchange for the arson charge against him to be dropped.
With Michael Yurchick as the primary witness, a jury convicted Amber Yurchick. She has been held without bail at Hancock County Jail since her trial in July.
Her prison term will be followed by four years of probation. Cuddy also ordered her to pay $35,000 in restitution to the couple who owned the Sedgwick home.
The sentence was considerably lower than the recommendation by Deputy District Attorney Carletta Bassano, who asked for 15 years with all but eight suspended.
Yurchick’s attorney, Steven Juskewitch of Ellsworth, said a psychological evaluation of his client revealed depression and symptoms of an abusive relationship. He also pointed out that she has no criminal record.
Several people also spoke in court on Yurchick’s behalf.
“I know she’ll go the right way if given half the chance,” her father, Michael Yurchick Sr., said.
Deborah Stanley, who got to know Yurchick while both were being held at Hancock County Jail, added, “All she talked about was bettering her life. I see so much potential in her.”
Yurchick also addressed the court and revealed that she is pregnant.
“I want to have the chance to be a good parent,” she said tearfully. “I’ve never had to ask for a chance before.”
Juskewitch said it was likely his client would have her baby while in prison.