Teen admits guilt in Middletown church arson

A 16-year-old teen accused of setting fire to Tytus Avenue First Church of God in Middletown and vandalizing a gas station has admitted guilt in both crimes. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
A 16-year-old teen accused of setting fire to Tytus Avenue First Church of God in Middletown and vandalizing a gas station has admitted guilt in both crimes. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A 16-year-old teen accused of setting fire to a Middletown church and vandalizing a gas station has admitted guilt in both crimes.

The Middletown teen pleaded true, the equivalent of guilty in adult court, to vandalism and arson today in Butler County Juvenile Court.

MORE: Facebook post led to arson arrest in Middletown church fire

The boy was charged with aggravated arson, breaking and entering theft for starting the Jan. 22 fire at Tytus Avenue First Church of God. He was also charged with vandalizing a Middletown gas station before the church fire.

Prosecutors dismissed the remaining charges against the teen in exchange for the plea.

Judge Ronald Craft set sentencing for next month. The teen could be sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for up to his 21st birthday, to the county detention center for up to 90 days on each charge, or to the county rehabilitation center for four to six months.

The teen will remain in the detention center until sentencing.

MORE: Extensive damage reported after Middletown church fire

He hugged his family before leaving the courtroom today. One family member told him “chin up” and the boy nodded and smiled back.

The teen said he was off his medication and confessed to setting the church fire in a Facebook post, according to court documents.

A second teen, charged with failure to report a crime and receiving stolen property after he was allegedly found to be in possession of a laptop taken from the church, as well as vandalism to the gas station, also entered a true plea to vandalism. The other charges were dismissed.

The 16-year-old was sentenced by Craft to a 90-day rehabalition program within the county juvenile detention center.

About the Author