Webster teen convicted in deadly house fire sentenced to 15 years to life

Posted at: 07/23/2013 9:24 PM
Updated at: 07/24/2013 5:34 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

It was an emotional morning in court for Michael Pilato’s family after a judge sentenced the teen to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Pilato was convicted of setting a deadly fire that killed his father and two brothers in December 2011 in Webster. He was found guilty of arson and multiple counts of murder last month. The jury found that he intended to kill his family when he used gasoline to set fire to the home.

The fire killed 71-year-old Carmen Pilato, 16-year-old Peter Pilato and 12-year-old Joshua Pilato. His mother and 13-year-old sister were injured but survived.

The judge had strong words for Michael Pilato this morning saying out of his 29 years as a judge, he has never seen a crime with more horrific consequences. He told Pilato he refused to let him off easy, no matter how old he was at the time of the fire.

Now, Pilato will serve the minimum sentence of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison. Pilato held his head down the entire time he was in court and he declined to make a statement when asked.

District Attorney Sandra Dorley read statements from the victim's family. They said Michael deserves to be in jail and they fear for the public's safety if he were to be released. His stepsister also spoke to the judge, pleading with him to give Michael Pilato the maximum sentence. She said her family gave him a chance at a better life and he returned their kindness with murder.

His mother, who we spoke to out side of the courtroom, says the judge didn't give her the chance to speak. She says this incident has not only ruined her life, it has divided her entire family. Elaine Pilato said, “He's a good loving son of 15 years who just snapped that night for which he doesn't need to spend his life in jail. Everyone deserves a second chance. I need him home and in our lives again. We all need to pick up the pieces in our lives and move on.”

Pilato’s stepsister, Angel Pilato Schuman said, “My father would not have forgiven Michael for this, no. Absolutely not. My father would be happy with this and I hope he's proud of us and watching over us today.”

As for the other charges, the judge sentenced him to nine years to life for felony murder and three to 10 years for arson.

The judge did say because of his age at the time of the incident, he was not able to sentence Pilato to life without the possibility of parole. He also said if you could have, he would have.