AP NEWS

The Latest: DA says man burned church to hide own activities

May 2, 2019
FILE - This is a Mississippi Department of Public Safety-provided and undated state driver's license photograph of Andrew McClinton, of Leland, Miss. McClinton was sentenced Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Greenville, Miss. Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray also gave him 10 years of supervised release after the 10 in prison. McClinton pleaded guilty to arson on March 28. Investigators said McClinton belonged to the church that was vandalized and burned, Hopewell Missionary Baptist in Greenville. Some initially suspected the fire was a hate crime. But Washington County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson says McClinton was trying to hide illicit activities he had done inside the church. (Mississippi Department of Public Safety via AP, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a man being sentenced in the 2016 burning of a Mississippi church that was spray painted with “Vote Trump” (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

A prosecutor says a Mississippi man admitted setting an African American church on fire but never took responsibility for the words “Vote Trump” that were spray painted on the outside of the building the night of the blaze.

Washington County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson tells The Associated Press that 47-year-old Andrew McClinton gave investigators varying accounts of setting the fire at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville. The fire and vandalism happened a week before the 2016 presidential election.

McClinton was a member of the church. Richardson says McClinton was involved in “illicit” activities at the church and set the fire to prevent fellow congregants from meeting about the activities. Richardson would not elaborate.

McClinton pleaded guilty to arson in March and was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.

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1:39 p.m.

A member of an African American church in Mississippi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for burning the church, which was also spray painted with “Vote Trump” a week before the 2016 presidential election.

WLBT-TV reports 47-year-old Andrew McClinton was sentenced Thursday in Greenville. Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray also gave him a 10-year suspended sentence, with some of that suspended sentence under state supervision.

McClinton pleaded guilty to arson on March 28.

Investigators said McClinton belonged to the church that was vandalized and burned, Hopewell Missionary Baptist in Greenville.

Some initially suspected the fire was a hate crime. But Washington County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson says McClinton was trying to hide illicit activities he had done inside the church.

McClinton was sentenced as a habitual offender because of previous felony convictions.

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This story has been corrected to show that after McClinton serves the 10 years in prison, he will have a 10-year suspended sentence with some of it, but not all of it, under state supervision.