Artist to serve nine months after drug binge |

Artist to serve nine months after drug binge

William Ferchland

A drug-addled artist who set fire to an antique outbuilding that doubled as his art studio and then held a gun to his head during a 2 1/2-hour standoff with authorities was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years probation.

Floyd Elmore’s eyes welled with tears as he apologized for his actions April 20 in front of El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury and Steve Smith, owner of the property.

Defense attorney William Routsis said his client was up three to five days freebasing “unbelievable quantities” of cocaine.

“I want to extend my deepest apologies to everyone,” said Elmore, who has remained in El Dorado County Jail since his arrest. “I never intended this to happen.”

At Kingsbury’s prompting, Elmore directly apologized to Smith, a history aficionado, in destroying the antique structure used decades ago by Tahoe loggers.

“I’m going to live my entire life knowing I took a piece of history from you,” Elmore said.

Last month Elmore pleaded no contest to use of a prohibitive drug. In exchange, charges of unlawfully causing a fire, resisting an officer and carrying a loaded firearm were dropped.

In arguing for no more time behind bars, where Elmore has passed time by reading the works of philosopher Immanuel Kant, Routsis said his client needs to be treated for an undiagnosed bipolar disorder and help to repay his debt caused by the fire damage. “He had no intent of hurting anybody,” Routsis said.

Routsis added the loss of Elmore’s property in the fire – including $15,000 worth of tools and one portrait that took 600 hours to complete – was excruciating for the 24-year-old.

Elmore admitted he thinks about the day endlessly in jail and has trouble sleeping.

In a written statement in his court file, Elmore wrote he intended to go to Lake Tahoe and shoot himself but is now committed to “under supervision, to reenter society and become a citizen more educated about the path to take in life.”

“I believe my cocaine use greatly assisted my inappropriate actions that day,” he stated.

Prosecutor Hans Uthe disputed Routsis’ claim that Elmore didn’t remember setting fire to the antique structure. During the standoff at the intersection of Riverside and Tallac avenues, Elmore told police he set fire to the buildings and echoed that claim in a subsequent interview with authorities, Uthe said.

Uthe said several “miracles” occurred that day such as nobody being injured and Elmore not being killed.

Eight or nine months in jail was the sentence Uthe recommended to Kingsbury.

Perhaps the most influential case was made by Smith, who owned and refurbished the antique structure scrawled with the name of past inhabitants.

With the loss, Smith’s property valued shrinked as well as the land coverage allowed for building. He asked for full restitution and lost rent, which was estimated at more than $65,000.

“I did nothing to deserve this. He should pay for what he’s done,” Smith said.

“I have a great deal of empathy for the Smiths in this situation,” Kingsbury said.

The judge continued to note cocaine and firearms were found at Elmore’s residence. She noted Elmore’s past drug use, the levels of which were mind-boggling.

Elmore said he consumed three thousand hits of ecstasy. Four thousand times Elmore said he was on LSD. Two thousand times he said he freebased cocaine.

Elmore has served about five months in jail, with credit for time served. A hearing on how much he needs to pay in restitution might be scheduled.

He was ordered to enroll himself in a drug counseling program in the jail and be examined by a psychiatrist.

Kingsbury said Elmore should halt his education in getting degrees in history and electrical engineering and focus on getting a job.

“If you need to work two jobs to pay these folks back in a timely manner that’s what you need to do,” Kingsbury said. “End of story.”

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