GREENVILLE, MS (WLBT) - The man charged in the Greenville church burning was sentenced to 20 years Thursday morning. Sentencing began Thursday at 10:00 a.m.
Judge Margaret Carey-McCray sentenced 45-year-old Andrew McClinton to 10 years as a habitual offender with 10 supervised conditional on 5 years of supervision by MDOC. He will also face various other fines.
McClinton made his initial appearance in December of 2016. At that time, his bond was set at $250,000.
According to a bishop, McClinton is a member of the church that was burned. McClinton was charged with one count of first degree arson of a place of worship. The burning of the historical African American church called Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church happened in 2016.
The vandalism of the church was investigated as a hate crime. The words “Vote Trump” were spray painted on the side of the charred building, leading many around the nation to call it a “crime of race.”
According to Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is not classifying this as a hate crime.
According to the Washington County DA, Dewayne Richardson, McClinton claimed the fire was accidental and he rubbed two wires together, causing a book to catch on fire.
DA Richardson said that after a thorough investigation, officials determined the motive of the burning was that McClinton was trying to hide illicit activities he had done inside the church and with members of the church. The night the church was burned down, the members had planned to gather and McClinton believed they were going to disclose the activities he had been doing.