Man sentenced to prison for trying to burn down ex-wife's house

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Jody Wayne Whelchel

HOUSTON - A Richmond man will spend time behind bars for trying to burn down his house to get back at his ex-wife.

A judge sentenced Jody Wayne Whelchel, 34, to 10 years in prison for arson.  A jury convicted Whelchel earlier this year.  He was charged with attempting to burn down his house after an argument with his ex-wife.

Whelchel and his wife were going through a divorce, and he was kicked out of his home in January 2012.  According to prosecutors, Whelchel's wife left the house to drop off the children at school and go to work.   Whelchel stayed home.  He called his wife several times and told her he was going to burn the house down, said prosecutors.  He called later and said the house was on fire.

Whelchel called 911 to report the fire, but told dispatchers he was was having problems with a light fixture and the fire must have been an accident.  However, an investigation by the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal's Office determined the fire was set.

After the fire, Whelchel was seen rollerblading in the street, said prosecutors.

Arson in this case is a first-degree felony with a punishment range of 5 to 99 years, or life, in prison.

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