Tablet Local

Man gets 7 years for torching Wendy Davis’ office

A homeless man pleaded guilty Monday morning to throwing Molotov cocktails at the office of Wendy Davis in 2012 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Cedric Carmond Steele, 42, faced two to 20 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree felony. Steele will receive credit for time served and will be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence, said his attorneys, Reagan Wynn and Loren Green.

Steele was charged in April 2012 with arson of a building.

Davis, who is running for governor, approved of the plea arrangement reached by the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said Jack Strickland, who represented the state during the hearing.

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will evaluate Steele and make decisions about any special circumstances he faces,” Strickland said.

Steele was accused of throwing a paper bag filled with six Molotov cocktails March 19, 2012, against the outer door of Davis’ state Senate office on West Seventh Street. A small fire broke out, and an employee put it out with an extinguisher. No one was injured.

Employees at Davis’ office said Steele visited the office twice previously that March, asking to speak to Davis about a Taser incident in Michigan. He left behind part of a dead animal that he said was a “new species,” workers said.

When he was charged, Davis said, “It is our hope that Cedric Steele, should it be warranted, gets the help his family believes he desperately needs.”

Steele’s brother, Curtis Steele of Michigan, told the Star-Telegram that Steele was a middle-school teacher and had a deteriorating mental condition. He said he believed that his brother “mentally snapped.”

Steele told mental health professionals at the Wichita Falls facility where he was hospitalized that he worked as a weapon designer for the CIA and had permission from CIA officials to fire-bomb Davis’ office, according to court documents.

Steele became more rational, and his behavior modified while he was receiving treatment for his mental issues, Wynn said.

“Hopefully he will continue to get the type of treatment he has been getting at the state hospital,” Wynn said. “He’s a totally different person when he is medicated than when he is not. He still has some serious mental-health issues. The district attorney’s office has been fair with us given the limits of the criminal justice system when it comes to dealing with people who are suffering from mental illness.”