Church arsonist headed to prison

| August 21, 2009

WAURIKA — Justin Blake Adams will spend at least 10 years in prison after he was convicted of arson and burglary connected to a fire that destroyed half of First United Methodist Church of Waurika last fall.

On Sept. 20, 2008, the sanctuary wing of the church was destroyed by a suspicious fire and other parts of the building were vandalized.

Adams, a Wichita Falls, Texas, resident, was arrested later that day and charged with second-degree arson and second-degree burglary, both felonies.

Adams was 19 when he appeared for a preliminary hearing in November and pleaded no contest to the two felonies. Upon a recommendation by Carrie E. Hixon, assistant district attorney for the District 6 District Attorney’s Office, he was placed in Oklahoma’s Regimented Inmate Discipline (RID) program.

At a sentencing hearing Monday at Jefferson County Courthouse, District Judge Joe Enos sentenced Adams to a total of 32 years in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Because of his successful participation in the RID program, and if he is in good standing in the penal system, after serving the first 10 years of his sentence in prison, the balance of Adams’ sentence will be suspended. He will also be required to reimburse First United Methodist Church for expenses incurred in rebuilding the sanctuary of the church.

“This was a senseless crime that affected the Waurika community,” said District 6 District Attorney Bret Burns. “We hope the prison sentence of Mr. Adams will send a strong message to anyone who wants to vandalize a church that the consequences will far outweigh the rewards of the crime.

“At the same time, we hope this sentence and the eventual restitution will bring about some sense of closure for the church congregation.”

Hixon said Adams’ successful participation in the RID program had an impact on his sentencing, leading to the possibility for a sentence suspension after his first 10 years in prison.

“I think, in the end, this worked out well. This is how we hope the RID program will work,” Hixon noted. “When he appeared in court, Mr. Adams testified on his own behalf and it appeared that he was remorseful and took full responsibility for what he did.

“He seemed to have benefited from the program.”

Bringing an end to the case against Adams was a prelude to what will be a high-profile fall jury term that begins on Sept. 14 in Jefferson County.

On the docket for that term is the possible trial of Nichola Michelle Frasier of Ringling, who faces two felony charges of child neglect and attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance. Frasier’s two daughters and a male cousin died in a fire in June that authorities assert started when she was manufacturing methamphetamine.

Scott Allen Black will go to trial in connection with an arson charge filed in May, when the Waurika man allegedly set fire to his wife, Kathryn Hansson Black, during an altercation at the couple’s home.

Two men charged with robbing The Markette in Waurika have their cases on the docket for September. Preston Lindel Glascow of Temple and Jimmy Smart of Hastings were charged with armed robbery following that incident in March.

The cases of at least two of the five Jefferson County men charged with various crimes in a drug sweep in June are on the docket. Hixon said Louie Dabbs of Ryan and Calvin Hampton of Waurika will face jury trials on charges of distribution of a controlled substance.

Also arrested in that drug bust were Jimmy Torrez Jr. and George Romero of Waurika, and Brady Butler of rural Jefferson County.

Hixon said it was possible the three will enter the RID program.

“There are also two cases of production and distribution of a controlled substance that are on the September docket,” she added.

 

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