Greenville, MS – On May 2, 2019, Washington County Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray sentenced Andrew McClinton, 47 years of age, for the arson that destroyed the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. McClinton was sentenced to twenty (20) years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. McClinton will have to serve ten (10) years of the sentence in custody as a Habitual Offender, meaning he will have to serve every day of the sentence, with the remaining ten years suspended conditioned on a period of supervised probation. Prior to today’s sentencing, McClinton pled guilty to this crime on March 28, 2019,
The investigation of the church burning began in the evening hours of November 1, 2016, the Greenville Fire Department responded to a 911 call for a fire at the Hopewell Church on Delesseps Street. Upon arrival, they found the church fully engulfed in flames. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies began their investigations into the fire and over the course of a several weeks long investigation developed McClinton as a suspect in the arson. The investigation resulted in the collection of cell phone records and video surveillance that tied McClinton to the scene. In December 2016, McClinton gave a confession to law enforcement in which he admitted to setting the fire in the church using the church’s electrical wires to light the carpet on fire. The church was completely destroyed in the fire.
McClinton had prior felony convictions which included a 2004 Armed Robbery, 1997 Attempted Armed Robbery, and convictions for Grand Larceny with the convictions occurring in Lee and Washington Counties, Mississippi, respectively.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys John Herzog Jr. and Kaylon McCou, Herzog previously said that “without the dedicated and diligent teamwork of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies striving to attain justice, this painful chapter in the long history of the Hopewell M.B. Church could not have been closed. Those members of the public who assisted law enforcement deserve a special note of recognition and praise, this case could not have been closed and McClinton brought to justice without their valuable assistance,” Herzog further said.
The case was investigated by the Greenville Fire Department, the Greenville Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office. Local businesses and citizens also provided valuable assistance to law enforcement during the course of the investigation.
District Attorney W. Dewayne Richardson added, “We are glad to bring a close to this case and to provide justice for our community. McClinton has been sentenced for his actions and we appreciate all the hard work and man hours that various local, state, and federal agencies put into solving this crime.”
Contact: W. Dewayne Richardson District Attorney, Fourth Circuit Court District | 662-378-2105