NEWBERRY, S.C.; April 12, 2023 – A Newberry man was sentenced to more than a decade in prison after he pleaded guilty Monday to charges connected to a fire that destroyed his ex-girlfriend’s house, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Wednesday.
Jorge Mora-Vahena, 29, of Newberry pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree arson and one count of first-degree assault and battery. Circuit Judge Eugene C. Griffith Jr. sentenced Mora-Vahena to 10 years in prison on the arson charge and five years in prison on the assault charge, with that sentence suspended to 30 months. The sentences are to run consecutively.
In the early morning hours of September 14, 2022, emergency crews were dispatched to a fire at the victim’s home where she and her two children had been sleeping. The family made it out of the home, but their family pet did not. The home was destroyed. Following an investigation by the Newberry Fire Department, Newberry Police Department, and Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the fire had been intentionally set. Mora-Vahena’s phone records placed him at the victim’s residence at the time of the fire. When confronted with the phone records, Mora-Vahena confessed to starting the fire.
Assistant Solicitor Bret Price and Senior Assistant Solicitor Taylor Daniel handled the case for the state, with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Jared Hunnicutt. Mora-Vahena was represented by Charles Verner of the Newberry Public Defender’s Office.
Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff along with lead investigator Sgt. Caitlyn Branch with Newberry Police Department in securing the conviction and prison sentence.
“It takes a malicious, evil heart to set a home on fire where children are sleeping,” Solicitor Stumbo said. “I am pleased that Jorge Mora-Vahena will be behind bars for a long time, and we will continue to stand with our partners in law enforcement to fight this scourge of domestic violence in our communities.”