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Texas man gets 40 years in prison for church fire

August 24, 2018

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for a church fire that caused nearly $784,000 in damage.

Jurors deliberated for just five minutes before convicting Thomas Britton on Thursday of arson and criminal mischief. He was charged with setting the January 2017 blaze at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth.

Rev. Fritz Ritsch says five fires were set inside the church and numerous items were destroyed. Prosecutor Vincent Giardino says the crime amounts to “historic criminal mischief.”

Britton was identified after church surveillance video was publicly released.

Investigators say Britton initially said he wasn’t at the church, but later said he was there on a national security mission to meet a potential terrorist. Authorities say Britton left graffiti in an attempt to implicate a terrorist group.

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