TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A 91-year-old Tyler man was found guilty by a jury of arson, and has been sentenced to life in prison.
Kermit Francis Gabel was found guilty of setting fire to an abandoned home on South Beckham Avenue in 2020 after a series of vacant buildings caught fire at the time.
The jury said they found Gabel’s previous convictions and criminal history to warrant a life sentence, and his attorney has filed an appeal.
“The sentence went from two years to life,” Gabel said at sentencing. “Welcome to Texas.”
Gabel was indicted in 2021 and found to have started the fire “by lighting an accelerant with an ignition device,” and has been in jail since 2020 for his charge of arson and a parole violation. His bond was set at $250,000.
Gabel had previously been given parole for life after a previous Texas conviction in the 1980s. A judge once said that Gabel “made a living stealing other people’s property.”
Accused of multiple crimes in Ohio, Gabel was dubbed the “Silver Burglar” with crime sprees dating back to the 1940s.
First degree felony arson, which Gabel was found guilty of, is punishable by five years to life in prison. Second degree felony arson is punishable by two to 20 years in prison.