Jury finds Lufkin man guilty of burning his own home

Timothy Thompson mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Timothy Thompson mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – After six hours of deliberation, an Angelina County jury found Timothy Thompson guilty of burning down his own house almost a year ago.

Thompson has elected for a judge to select his sentence.  The arsonist faces up to life in prison for the crime.

Thompson looked on Friday afternoon as the state told jurors in closing arguments the fire was a result of Thompson's anger. Angelina County Assistant District Attorney Dale Summa said there is no dispute that there was a fire.

"It certainly wasn't a result of any electrical fire," said Summa.

Thompson, 26, is charged with arson for a March 2010 house fire at his Keltys Street home in Lufkin. In March, witnesses told authorities they saw Thompson light a pile of clothes on fire in the hallway. The house was destroyed.

Around 11:30 a.m. both the state and the defense rested and closed and Angelina County District Judge Paul White charged the jury.

Summa told jurors maybe the culprit didn't intentionally mean to burn the entire house, just some clothes.

The main question is "who started the fire," Summa asked.

Summa told jurors the defendant was lying to authorities. He went on to point out specific lies Thompson had allegedly told throughout the investigation. He mentioned the defendant originally said the furniture was turned over in the house because he was cleaning, but Summa said that wasn't a statement he stuck to throughout the trial.

The prosecuting attorney went on to acknowledge many of the witnesses in the case have criminal histories, but Thompson has the most condemning record of all. He went on to call the charred home a "crack house."

"Crimes that are hatched in hell don't have angels as witnesses," Summa said. "He [Thompson] turned his house into a crack house, don't expect me to believe the story that he actually cared about his kids."

Summa explained to jurors Thompson was angry at his wife for going to a concert and not coming back like she said she would.

The state recalled testimony of witnesses who said the defendant was not rushing to get water the day of the fire, but instead just watched the home burn.

"He uses narcotics all the dang time," said Summa. "It got to be a big fire, he leaves, starts calling the police repeatedly….lies about different aspects of the case."

Defense attorney Al Charanza addressed the jury in his closing statements telling them his client has not had one conviction for arson. He said the state is doing what he was afraid they would do, using Thompson's past convictions for family violence to condemn him in this arson case.

"They want to find him guilty because of who he is," said Charanza.

Thompson's attorney said it's obvious his client didn't burn his house down because there was no evidence of flammable liquids and no accelerants found at the scene.

The attorney pointed out Thompson's home was a crack house and there are several people going in and out of the house. He went on to say the information Thompson gave detectives matched the evidence investigators were discovering.

Charanza asked jurors to not make a decision based on Thompson's past. He admitted his client has served some time in prison.

"You don't find people guilty based on who they are," said Charanza. "If he's going to burn his house down, don't you think he would've grabbed some pictures of his kids?"

"As far as arson, Tim Thompson, he clearly didn't," said Charanza as he pointed at his client in the courtroom.

Summa, in his rebuttal, said no one is claiming the arson was thought out for weeks or executed flawlessly. However, the prosecuting attorney said all the state has to prove is what is in the indictment.

The jury recessed to begin deliberations at 12:17 p.m.

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