Kasey Cardell Holt

Kasey Cardell Holt

Former Napa Valley College student Kasey Cardell Holt is facing more than 12 years in prison after pleading guilty last week to setting fire to his basketball coach’s office and apartment building in 2015.

Holt, who was charged with arson as well as attempted murder, pleaded guilty to arson of an inhabited structure, using an explosive or destructive device and second- degree burglary before Judge Elia Ortiz in Napa County Superior Court. The attempted murder charge was dismissed along with a first-degree burglary charge and an additional arson charge.

Holt also admitted to arson with aggravating factors, and three special allegations that his crimes included excessive property loss.

Holt, 24, was found to be responsible for two arson attacks committed in June 2015 – one in the office of Napa Valley College men’s basketball coach Steve Ball on June 22 and the other at Ball’s apartment complex on Valley Oak Drive in Napa on June 28. 

The fire at the college, which caused an estimated $591,000 in damage, caused the school's gymnasium to be closed for two weeks for repairs. 

The second fire reportedly caused more than $50,000 in damage to the coach's condo as well as neighboring condos, according to the Napa County District Attorney's Office. 

No one was injured in either fire, but both were determined to be intentional. 

Propane explosive devices had been thrown through the front window of one of the condos and a propane canister duct-taped to a one gallon plastic container with flammable substance was located in the front door of the coach’s residence, police said.

The then-22-year-old student from Hercules had a playing dispute with the coach, according to the report.

Holt was arrested in El Sobrante with the assistance of the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department and booked at the Martinez Detention Facility on Sept. 30, 2016 following a 15-month investigation.

Coach Ball, who is still listed as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the college, was not available for a comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

Holt is expected to face 12 years and eight months in state prison, according to court documents. He will also be required to register as an arson offender and pay restitution his victims, including Napa Valley College. 

“This defendant callously put lives at risk and inflicted extensive financial damage," Deputy District Attorney Jodi Dell said in a press release. "We feel the 12 year, 8 month state prison sentence dictated by the plea bargain is a substantial sentence that accurately reflects the gravity of this offense.”

Holt's defense attorney, Brian H. Getz of San Francisco, said that Holt wants to serve his time so that he can have a new beginning when he gets out of prison. 

"I think he is a smart, considerate, caring person who eventually is going to make a contribution to society," Getz said. "Ultimately, his life is not going to be defined by what happened."

Holt's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 27. He is being held on $5 million bail. 

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.