- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas man faces at least seven years in federal prison for setting fire to a courthouse annex building in Stuttgart while he was high on methamphetamine.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes told Donald Aaron of Stuttgart, 34, that he could be sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison, pay a $250,000 fine and $2.2 million in restitution. Aaron was set to go to trial but instead pleaded guilty to one count of arson, malicious use of fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1V82F4h) reported.

In February, Aaron was charged with two counts of arson in the fire that broke out at the Arkansas County Courthouse annex last September. The blaze destroyed the building, which was built in 1981, and the remaining walls had to be torn down due to safety concerns.

He admitted to Holmes that he broke into the building in hopes of stealing methamphetamine from the evidence room.

“I’d been smoking meth for six to eight hours. I was almost out of dope. I busted a window to get into the evidence room, but I could not get in,” Aaron said.

He said he then grabbed a piece of foil, put a “big rock” of meth on it and lighted it.

“It flamed up on me, burned me,” Aaron told the judge. “I throwed it down, and I jumped out the window and ran away.”

A new courthouse annex is being built and is expected to cost $1.6 million.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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