EAGLE — The man who tried to burn down his ex-girlfriend’s East Vail apartment building last September was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday.
Andrew Wells was charged with attempted murder, arson and stalking following the Sept. 22, 2012, incident in which he set the East Vail apartment building, where he thought his ex-girlfriend was sleeping, on fire.
Wells ex-girlfriend speaks
Wells’s ex-girlfriend spoke to the courtroom before the sentencing, struggling to get the words out as she cried about the ordeal that has haunted her for months. She told Judge R. Thomas Moorhead that Wells was her first love and best friend. She remembers him telling her that he would never hurt her when they met; she had just gotten out of a relationship and was still wary of getting involved with someone else.
Wells broke that promise over and over again, she told the court. He stalked her, mentally abused her, mocked her and tried to physically harm her several times.
He tampered with her car, including damaging a CV joint, loosening lug nuts and stuffing a plastic bag into the nozzle of her gas tank. She remembers nights when she’d wake up at 3 a.m. to the sound of her car alarm going off. The police couldn’t do anything without proof, though, she said.
Wells’s ex-girlfriend remained brave and refused to leave Vail out of fear. She loves her life in Vail and wasn’t going to let Wells take that away from her, she said. Had she done that, he would have won, she said.
Moorhead told her he appreciated her courage for speaking to the courtroom.
Her pain, however, does not end now that Wells has been sentenced. She continues to face the psychological toll this has taken on her life.
“After all of this, I’m afraid to love someone again, and who knows how long it will be before I can,” she said.
She still worries about the day he gets out of jail and has nightmares about Wells coming back to kill her. She said when she learned he planned to escape out of the Eagle County Jail — something attorneys on both sides acknowledged in court Wednesday although no charges are being filed for that alleged crime — she found herself afraid to walk around alone at night.
As she finished reading her letter to the court, she said she hopes Wells gets the counseling and treatment he needs while in prison so he can “work out his issues and not do this to anyone ever again.”
“No girl deserves to be lied to and put through what I was,” she said.
Wells addresses the court
Wells also addressed the court Wednesday, apologizing to his ex-girlfriend, family members, friends and also to the seven people who were sleeping in that East Vail apartment building the night he set it on fire.
He talked about his regrets, and the personal and professional goals he hopes to accomplish someday. He said he never meant his ex-girlfriend any harm, that he was only trying to scare her.
Wells’ sister also pleaded to Moorhead for the minimum sentence, which would have been 26 years.
Moorhead told the court that Wells rates “very high” in all four categories of criminogenic needs — low self control, anti-social companions, anti-social attitude and orientation, and anti-social personality pattern.
“For that reason, it is very clear that you are not capable of being dealt with in the community and that there must be a significant period of incarceration,” Moorhead said.
Moorhead added that the court also considers an offender’s history during sentencing, which in Wells’s case includes violating protection orders and stalking women, as well as considering the psychological damage to the victim in this case.
“While it’s true there was no physical injury that was suffered by anyone, the psychological damage actually could go on much longer than the physical injury,” he said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at lglendenning @vaildaily.com or 970-748-2983.