Persons sentenced following guilty plea in arson case

Dennis Persons (seated left) appeared in court with his attorney, Karyn Justice (seated right). Photo by Carrie Gloeckner.

POMEROY – Dennis Persons entered a plea of guilty and has been sentenced on an arson charge in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas.

Persons appeared before Judge I. Carson Crow Wednesday, Feb. 1 and received five years in prison, three years of post release community control, a lifetime firearm ban, costs of prosecution and to pay restitution in the amount of $1,110. Persons must also register with the state arson registry. Persons entered the guilty plea to an amended charge of one count of Aggravated Arson, a felony of the second degree, following a plea agreement.

Persons admitted to setting fire to a mobile home on March 3, 2016 around 6 a.m. with his wife and brother-in-law inside the Long Bottom home. Persons and his wife made it out of the burning structure without injury, however, his brother-in-law was not as fortunate.

The State of Ohio Fire Marshal was called in to investigate the Bigley Ridge Road home fire along with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. Multiple fire departments responded to the scene as well. In the weeks following, Persons was indicted on March 25, 2016 by a Meigs County Grand Jury. He was charged originally charged with one count on Aggravated Arson, a felony of the first degree.

Throughout the proceeding, Judge Crow repeatedly asked if Persons if he understood the plea and the plea agreement. Persons indicated each time that he did understand and entered the guilty plea.

According to Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James Stanley as he addressed the court with the plea agreement, it was a difficult for both sides to reach an agreement in the case. Stanley stated he “spoke at length” with both victims in the case to reach a plea deal.

Meigs County Victim’s Advocate Theda Petrasko presented a letter to the court from the brother-in-law. The letter was not read aloud, but delivered to Judge Crow. The other victim, Person’s wife, was present in the courtroom, but declined the opportunity to address the court.

Assistant State Defender Karyn Justice represented Persons. Judge Crow asked if alcohol was a factor in the case, Justice indicated that it was a factor.

Judge Crow asked Persons directly about alcohol leading to this situation. “That and abusing my pills. The Lord blessed me and I threw it all away,” answered Persons.

Persons wife did not want him to serve jail time for the events of March 3, 2016, but his brother-in-law was in agreement with the sentence of five years and the restitution of $1,110 for his lost possessions in the fire as well.

Persons was taken immediately into custody following the hearing.