MUSKEGO - A Muskego man was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, 12 years of extended supervision and ordered to pay $11,742 in restitution and costs after pleading no contest to setting fire to his estranged wife's home that killed a dog and a cat.
James Barbian, 42, was sentenced earlier this month by Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lloyd Carter. Barbian entered his pleas in December to arson and mistreatment of an animal causing death.
Charges of burglary and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety were dropped in exchange for the plea. The pets died of smoke inhalation, according to veterinarians from the Muskego Animal Hospital.
The fire was May 2 at S82 W13115 Acker Drive, Muskego. It occurred the day after his wife was awarded the house. Barbian had been living with a friend in Greenfield.
According to the criminal complaint, Barbian's employer told police that Barbian left work upset shortly after 11 a.m. on May 2. He was allegedly seen at the Barbian home about 11:15 a.m. The fire was reported at 11:35 a.m., the complaint says. Police believe he was on his way to the home when he left an unsettling message on the phone of his estranged wife, Shannon Barbian.
"Tell you what. You can have all the money I have. I will no longer need it," the complaint quotes him as saying. Shannon Barbian tried unsuccessfully to reach the defendant after receiving the message, the complaint says. She even tried texting him saying: "Call me now. Emergency," with no response, the complaint says.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Antonio Martinez concluded that the fire was incendiary, having eliminated any other factors that may have started the fire such as wiring or electronics, according to the complaint. Martinez said the fire was started in Shannon Barbian's bedroom on the first floor by igniting the mattress which was turned upside down, and the contents of her closet.
Barbian is alleged to have used a lighter stored in a kitchen drawer to start the fire, the complaint says.