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2 GUILTY OF `MISCHIEF’ IN PAROWAN FIRE

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Two men accused of tossing a bottle rocket into an occupied apartment have been found guilty of criminal mischief.

David Keller and Ralph Heer were charged with aggravated arson. But on Friday, a jury found the two men guilty of the lesser charge."It (the case) cost me a year and a half and over $40,000," Keller said outside the 5th District courtroom. "But my integrity and family name (are) never for sale."

The six-man, two-woman jury took about 11/2 hours to arrive at the class C misdemeanor verdict. It carries a maximum penalty of $500 and 90 days in the Iron County Jail.

Judge Robert Braithwaite set sentencing for Jan. 17.

The verdicts capped a weeklong trial that included the testimony of Cedar City Det. Kelvin Orton, who faces a rape charge now that the trial is over.

That charge, expected to be filed by Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson to avoid a conflict of interest in Iron County, was delayed until the trial concluded.

Iron County Attorney Scott Burns left the courtroom immediately after the verdict without answering questions about the outcome of the trial or the pending Orton charges.

In closing arguments Friday, Burns asked the jury to find the defendants guilty of aggravated arson, or at the least attempted aggravated arson, both first-degree felonies.

"This case must be proved by elements," he said "And I submit to you we have those elements."

Those "elements" included the bottle rockets, which were fired into the apartment of Travis Forsgren the night of June 20, 1993, while Forsgren and his wife, Yolanda, were asleep.

Defense attorneys Loni DeLand and Douglas Terry told the jury they should acquit Keller for lack of evidence and return a lesser verdict against Heer, who admitted on the stand Thursday that he acted alone in the attack.

During the trial, Keller admitted that there was bad blood between him and Forsgren regarding Keller's business, Lube America.