Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 9, 2014

Pleas entered in arson case at soccer fields

MEADVILLE — The second of two Meadville men pleaded both guilty and no contest in Crawford County Court in connection with last summer’s vandalism of the Crawford County Youth Soccer Association fields and two other properties.

Dakota Wayne Little pleaded guilty Thursday before Judge John Spataro to one count each of arson endangering property and burglary. He pleaded no contest to a charge of terroristic threats filed against him by Pennsylvania State Police.

Little, 21, of 9045 Perry Highway, now faces up to 25 years in prison and $60,000 in fines when he is sentenced in March 7 by Spataro.

Little and Matthew Scott Kerr, 22, of 11067 Scarlet Ave., Meadville, were charged by state police with multiple counts for breaking into a Crawford County Youth Soccer Association storage shed on Townline Road in West Mead Township between 1 and 5 a.m. Aug. 10, 2013, burning storage buildings, destroying equipment inside and taking a powered golf cart.

State police also accused Little and Kerr of burning down a garage on Schenenberg Road in Randolph Township; and breaking into Hanna’s Grocery store in Townville and stealing $520 worth of cigarettes, both during that same 1 to 5 a.m. time frame on Aug. 10, 2013.

Kerr pleaded guilty in county court on Dec. 19, 2013, to two counts of criminal trespass and one count of burglary in connection with the case. Kerr is in Crawford County jail in lieu of $20,000, awaiting sentencing for his role Jan. 31.

Little didn’t speak about the incident after entering his pleas. Judges usually don’t question defendants at length about details of a case when entering pleas but question them at time of their sentencing.

Little was scheduled to go on trial in county court this month on a total of 17 counts — 13 of them felonies — before he entered his pleas Thursday.

Little was accused by state police of three counts each of arson and burglary; three counts each of criminal trespass and criminal mischief; two counts of theft by unlawful taking; and one count each of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and terroristic threats. The terroristic threat charge stemmed from Little allegedly threatening to kill a female witness if she spoke about the incidents.

If convicted in county court on all counts, Little faced up to 125 years in prison and $295,000 in fines.

However, Little reached a plea bargain with the Crawford County District Attorney’s Office and agreed to plead guilty to one count of arson for burning storage buildings at the soccer field and one count of burglary for breaking into the garage in Randolph Township; and plead no contest to the terroristic threats count. All remaining charges against Little will be dropped by the DA’s office in exchange for his pleas.

Little was returned to the Crawford County jail in lieu of $150,000 bond following Thursday’s court session.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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