Church arsonist pleads guilty to Seneca vandalism

| August 4, 2010

SENECA — Walhalla church arsonist Cody Christian Dean LeCroy was hauled from a Seneca courtroom in handcuffs Tuesday after pleading guilty to 12 counts of malicious destruction of property. LeCroy, 18, of Walhalla, can escape 90 days in jail by paying fines totaling $25,560.

Seneca Municipal Judge Danny Singleton sentenced LeCroy to 30 days in jail or a fine of $2,130 on each of the 12 counts but explained that his court can, by state statute, impose jail sentences only for up to 90 days.

Singleton told LeCroy his jail time would be capped, but he would receive no time off for good behavior.

LeCroy told Singleton that he was due to start a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program in Georgia on Aug. 11.

Tenth Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox ordered LeCroy into the program on July 28 after suspending a 15-year sentence handed down after LeCroy admitted to burning St. Luke United Methodist Church in Walhalla in July 2009. Failure to complete the year to 18-month Christian-based program in Dublin, Ga., will result in LeCroy serving the suspended sentence.

Before Maddox, LeCroy admitted being under the influence of drugs and alcohol while burning the church.

LeCroy’s Seneca arrest came only six days before his court appearance on the arson charge.

Alone, without an attorney or family members present, LeCroy sat at the defendant’s table and pleaded guilty Tuesday to each charge as Singleton read it off.

Sgt. B.J. McClure of the Seneca Police Department described to Singleton the investigation preceding LeCroy’s arrest. McClure said LeCroy used two knives to slash tires and scratch cars along the 200 block of Hunter Street in Seneca and around the offices of the South Carolina Regional Housing Authority.

LeCroy apologized for his actions and said he was under the influence of approximately 10 Xanax tablets and alcohol at the time. On July 28, he had testified to Maddox under oath that his only recent drug use had been marijuana three to four weeks before that date.

He told Singleton he did not recall committing the acts, making any statements to the police, or being locked up after his arrest.

Many of the victims of LeCroy’s vandalism attended Tuesday’s session, to make statements and present paperwork for restitution, which totaled over $2,600.

“I don’t hate you for what you did,” Jerlene Williams, whose car tires were slashed, told LeCroy. “I pray for you.”

She urged him to turn to Christianity instead of drugs and alcohol.

Sgt. Lisa Williams of the Seneca Police Department, speaking as victims’ advocate, urged Singleton to consider in his sentence that LeCroy’s victims were “good people, working people, who were just minding their own business” when LeCroy took it upon himself to destroy their property, in some cases imposing a genuine hardship.

“It’s more than just a monetary thing,” Williams said. “It’s a life-changing thing.”

“I don’t know what possessed you to do this,” Singleton told LeCroy in passing the sentences. “When you get done with the sentences I’m about to impose, I hope this year-long program helps you.”

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