Bedridden girlfriend's death earns man life

A judge hands down the harshest sentence he could for the fire that killed a cancer patient.

Associated Press
Published August 7, 2005

STUART - A man was sentenced to life in prison for setting his mobile home on fire, killing his bedridden, cancer-stricken girlfriend.

Martin Circuit Judge Larry Schack gave Gregory Todd Canham the harshest penalty allowed by law on Friday. Canham was sentenced to life, plus a 30-year consecutive term for arson. In July, Canham was convicted of first-degree murder and arson.

Wendy May Weller, who friends described as a cancer survivor, was found dead after the August 2003 blaze in their home. Authorities say Canham knew Weller, 49, could not escape the fire because of her illness.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty because much of the evidence connecting Canham to the fire was destroyed in the blaze.

"I can't believe that in your drug-induced haze and your desire for money, you had to kill a woman who loved you," said Weller's brother, Brian Weller. "I wish that you could get a death sentence. I hope you never get out. I hope you die in prison, and you will."

Canham claimed he tried to save Weller by ramming his truck into the trailer to create an escape route, but detectives said he changed his story many times.

Canham initially told detectives repeatedly he was unsure how the fire started.

Eventually, however, he acknowledged he lit the mattress on fire, pushed Weller to the floor and then tried to save her, the reports state.