Jury still out in local building arson case
Franklin County Times
A Franklin County jury went into deliberations yesterday afternoon after hearing two days of testimony against a man accused of burning a Russellville warehouse and taking items from the property.
Donny Hampton, 49, of 2011 Bullskull Road in Leighton, was tried this week for allegedly starting the fire at Dependable True Value Warehouse on Highway 43 in Russellville last September and taking items from the building.
Hampton was charged with first-degree theft of property, third-degree burglary, criminal mischief and second-degree arson.
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said the stolen items were found in Hampton's possession several days after the fire.
"It wasn't an accident that he had these things in his possession," Rushing told the jury during closing arguments.
Rushing contends that Hampton was an accomplice to stepson, Jason Miller, who testified that Hampton was there when the fire started and was active in the theft of property.
Miller pled guilty to theft of property and criminal mischief. He was sentenced to 15 years for the theft charge and 10 years for the criminal mischief charge with six months to serve and five years on probation.
Hampton's defense attorney Rebecca Green-Thomason painted a picture of a family man trying to help his stepson during a difficult time. Thomason said Miller asked Hampton to help him sell items in order to get cash. She claimed Hampton agreed to help his stepson without knowing that the items were stolen.
"All our testimony said that Mr. Hampton asked for a reasonable price for all the items," Thomason said. "If you were going to sell things that you knew were stolen, you would sell them for less than they are worth."
Thomason added Miller sold his stepfather out to avoid more harsh penalties and charges.
"Mr. Miller is guilty, but so is Mr. Hampton," Rushing said. "I know it's not a perfect settlement but it's not a sweetheart deal."
Rushing asked the jury to hold him accountable.
The jury is expected to reconvene today.