Owen Mercier

Owen Mercier

A Lebanon man has been sentenced to more than a year in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections for starting a fire that destroyed a building on the Champion Mill site in in Lebanon in February 2019.

Owen Daniel Mercier, 23, pleaded no contest to second-degree arson and second-degree criminal mischief on Jan. 3, and he was sentenced that same day.

He will be eligible for alternative incarceration programs, and, as the court found him an alcoholic or drug-dependent person, the state is directed to place him in an appropriate treatment program to the extent that resources are available.

Mercier told police in an October interview that he chose to set the mill building ablaze because it had been abandoned, his girlfriend had broken up with him, and his parents had been unkind to him, according to court paperwork.

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He was charged in the case in mid-November. The Lebanon Police Department investigated the matter, and had received a tip in October that Mercier had admitted to starting the blaze.

The fire occurred at about 10:20 p.m. on Feb. 25 and destroyed a 50,000-square-foot building. Lebanon Fire District investigators estimated the loss at $500,000.

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