Piling a former girlfriend’s clothes into a Coeur d’Alene yard and setting them on fire along with explosive aerosol cans didn’t play well Tuesday with a First District judge who ordered a five-year prison term for the perpetrator.
District Judge John Mitchell, though, suspended the sentence for 41-year-old Benjamin C. Buroker, who was initially charged with arson and malicious injury to property.
After being jilted by a former girlfriend and finding her at the Corner Bar on north Fourth Street with another man, Buroker allegedly piled her things onto the front lawn of the new boyfriend’s home on the 1000 block of north C Street and set them ablaze.
“This is a disturbing crime,” Mitchell said. “You shouldn’t be doing this in our community.”
Mitchell ordered Buroker to immediately serve 10 days in jail, and he ordered Buroker to pay $2,100 in restitution for the burned items and the boyfriend’s BMW that Buroker struck with a blunt object causing body, windshield and tire damage.
Police said Buroker met his former girlfriend and her new boyfriend Dec. 24, 2017, at the Corner Bar and confronted them before returning home and sending the girlfriend text messages and photographs of her items accompanied by the word “gone.”
Later that night after following the couple to the C Street address, Buroker allegedly piled the clothing and bath items — including aerosol hairspray cans — in the yard and set them ablaze.
Deputy prosecutor Casey Simmons said Buroker claimed not to have alcohol or mental health issues.
“We’re left with an individual who was so enraged he felt the need to gather her belongings, follow her to her new boyfriend’s house and light them on fire in the yard,” Simmons said.
Mitchell questioned why Buroker had not enrolled in anger management classes since his arrest, and said his criminal record, which includes harassment, disturbing the peace and child enticing charges, makes a poor impression.
“It sounds to me like a person who has an unmanaged mental health condition,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell imposed a five-year no contact order, imposed 300 hours community service and ordered Buroker to undergo parenting classes.