LIMA — A homeless man who admitted starting a fire that destroyed a downtown Lima landmark earlier this year was sentenced Tuesday to at least eight years in prison.
Jeffrey England, 40, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of aggravated arson and attempted murder for starting the June 23 fire in a structure at 122 N. Elizabeth St. that once housed Roxy Food & Spirits. The grand jurors determined England started the fire in an attempt to cause the deaths of Michael Adkins and Matthew Peddicord, who were also living in the abandoned structure at the time.
England, 40, accepted a deal from prosecutors in October that called for him to plead guilty to two counts of aggravated arson, felonies of the first degree, in exchange for the dismissal of the two attempted murder charges.
Defense attorney Carroll Creighton on Tuesday said his client has some “pretty severe mental health issues” and asked Judge Terri Kohlrieser to impose a sentence “on the lower end of the spectrum.” England did not speak during the hearing.
Kohlrieser sentenced the man to indefinite prison terms of 8 to 12 years on each of the two counts of aggravated arson and ordered the sentences be served concurrently. He was also ordered to register as an arson offender annually for the rest of his life.
England initially told investigators he started the fire at the North Elizabeth Street building accidentally when he failed to extinguish a cigarette, but later changed his story and said he had hoped to kill himself in the blaze. England subsequently told detectives he set fire to a blanket and then a mattress inside the structure in an attempt to kill the two men inside.
After being seen leaving the scene of the fire, England walked into the LPD and admitted starting the blaze.
The building has since been demolished and all that remains is a grassy lot.