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9:32 AM Sun, Oct. 21st

Arsonist's sentencing continued

KINGMAN - Mohave County Superior Court Judge James E. Chavez continued the sentencing for a Golden Valley man facing 11 felony counts, including six arson charges, at the request of the defense.

Carlene Lacy, defense attorney for John William Wright, said she wanted to be sure her client understood the guilty plea agreement he accepted, due to possible mental health issues raised by the pre-sentence report.

"I believe a Rule 26.5 evaluation is appropriate," Lacy said. "I don't believe a Rule 11 is appropriate."

A Rule 26.5 evaluation is a mental health examination or diagnostic evaluation prior to sentencing. A Rule 11 motion requests to have the defendant's mental condition examined to determine if a defendant is competent to stand trial, or to determine a defendant's mental state at the time of the offense.

Lacy said she will set up an evaluation prior to her client's judgment and sentencing hearing at 9:30 a.m. on March 23.

Wright, 18, of Golden Valley, is facing six counts of arson of a structure, three counts of third-degree burglary, one count of unauthorized burning of wildlands and one count of criminal damage. He pleaded guilty to unauthorized burning of wildlands and criminal damage on Jan. 26, after accepting a stipulated guilty plea agreement with the Mohave County Attorney's

Chavez had not accepted the plea and was going to wait until sentencing to decide.

"I did not accept the plea, at least on the surface, because I felt that it was too lenient on the defendant," Chavez said.

The victims expressed displeasure with the plea agreement because they felt the charges were not minor offenses.

Whether the charges will be considered Class 6 felonies that can be sentenced up to two years in jail each, or Class 1 misdemeanors that can be sentenced for six months each is up to Chavez, according to the plea agreement.

Deputies arrested Wright on Nov. 13 and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Wright, who was 17 at the time of the incidents, is being prosecuted as an adult.

Around 10:44 p.m. on Nov. 13, an engine and four Golden Valley Fire Department personnel responded to the Walnut Creek subdivision, where several fires had been set.

They were six car fires, a back porch swing fire and two small brush fires within a 30-minute span according to the GVFD.

There were no injuries, but four of the vehicles sustained interior damage and two had exterior damage from the fires

About four minutes later, deputies responded to an arson call in the 3100 block of Kevin Drive according to MCSO documents. The deputy contacted Michael Boop, a homeowner who had extinguished fires in three vehicles on his property.

While a deputy was talking with Boop, he noticed Wright observing the damage and told him to leave the scene. Deputies soon determined footprints at the scenes matched the shoes Wright was wearing.

They went to the Wright residence, which is in the same block as Boop, and questioned him after his mother gave them permission. Wright told deputies he had noticed the fires and tried to put them out himself.

After a search, deputies allegedly found a lighter and two CDs Boop claimed where in one of the damaged vehicles.