- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014

MATOAKA, W.Va. (AP) - A Mercer County man accused of starting a fire that caused nearly $4 million in damage has pleaded guilty to illegally entering the historic building.

The Register-Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1z2ju6Q) that prosecutors dropped an arson charge against 29-year-old Brandon Coomes in exchange for the plea to the lesser charge. Coomes faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 16.

Assistant Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler said Thursday that Coomes intended to strip copper wiring from the building, which is owned by Matoaka Mayor Todd Colonna and was being renovated. The Aug. 8 fire started when Coomes flipped a cigarette into a hole. Sitler said Coomes tried to extinguish the fire and was caught on video carrying a wire cutter as he left the building.

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Information from: The Register-Herald, https://www.register-herald.com



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