Jeffrey Otto Sentenced to 10 Years for Young Champions Arson Fire

Jeffrey Otto was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role as one of four arsonists involved in last year's fire at the Young Champions of America headquarters in Phoenix.

Otto, 20, had been the last of the three surviving arsonists to plead guilty to the crime that destroyed a building, cost the life of his friend and accomplice, 28-year-old Josh Robinson, and played with the emotions of hundreds of children who had taken karate lessons from the company. All four had been trusted instructors with Young Champions before deciding to torch the building.


While the sentence is tough, it's somewhat lighter than the 14 years handed to arsonist Jon Antonucci in March. As our January 21 cover story on the crime revealed, Antonucci appeared to be the  ringleader of the four because he had embezzled from Young Champions and wanted to start a rival firm.  

Now, all that remains in the case is the planned June 2 sentencing for 20-year-old Moniza Murillo.

Investigators say the four, all dressed in black, climbed up an awning and splashed 20 gallons of gasoline into the small, second-story office of the company's owner, Rory Hood. After Antonucci, Otto and Murillo crawled out of the office, Robinson accidentally incinerated himself when he lit a match.

Why Otto and Murillo participated in the crime remains a mystery: A fire investigator told New Times it seems to have been purely out of friendship.

The three arsonists lied to authorities in the days after the blaze, but Murillo later cracked and 'fessed up. Despite the guilty pleas, Murillo remains the only one of the three who has fully explained her involvement.

No doubt, she's hoping her admission and apparent remorse helps sway the judge when it comes to her sentence.

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