McClinton Pleads Guilty to Hopewell Church Arson

Greenville, MS – On March 28, 2019, Washington County Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray accepted the guilty plea of Andrew McClinton, 47 years of age, for the arson that destroyed the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. McClinton will be sentenced during the week of April 29, 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 been previously convicted of a 2004 Armed Robbery and a 1997 Attempted Armed Robbery, with both convictions occurring in Lee County, Mississippi. McClinton will be sentenced as a Habitual Offender in light of his previous felony convictions.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys John Herzog Jr. Kaylon McCou, and Austin Frye. Herzog 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 states, “The Office of the District Attorney is elated to bring closure to a single incident that gave a black eye to the Queen City of the Mississippi Delta. Through McClinton’s selfish actions, he brought national attention to our community. On today, McClinton admitted guilt before Circuit Court McCray and he will soon be sentenced for his actions.”

Contact: W. Dewayne Richardson District Attorney, Fourth Circuit Court District | 662-378-

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McClinton Sentenced in Hopewell Church Arson

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resources

Attorney General

www.ago.state.ms.us

MDOC

www.ms.gov

Federal Prisoners

www.bop.gov

Sex Offender Registry

state.sor.dps.ms.gov

AG Victim Unit

www.ago.state.ms.us

Our Mission

The mission of the District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Circuit Court, under the direction of
W. Dewayne Richardson, is to seek justice in order to maintain an environment of safety, security and lawful behavior for the citizens of the Fourth District.

The Office of the District Attorney uses lawful and reasonable methods to successfully identify and prosecute those who commit felony crimes. When a crime occurs, the Office of the District Attorney diligently pursues the indictment and conviction of those responsible, while adhering to all rights of the Victim, ensuring the victim is being provided all direct services applicable, and acknowledging all constitutional safeguards for the accused.

The District Attorney’s Office for the Fourth
District’s goal is to work with law enforcement and the judiciary to punish those who break our laws with adequate punishment. Every representative of the Office of the District Attorney pledges their commitment and full support to the protection of all citizens within the Fourth Circuit Court District.

Contact

Greenville Office
P.O. Box 426
Greenville MS 38702
[P] 662.378.2105
[F] 662.332.4665
generalinfo@msdeltada.com

Indianola Office
P.O. Box 1046
Indianola, MS 38751
[P] 662.887.4306
[F] 662.887.6275
generalinfo@msdeltada.com

Greenwood Office
P.O. Box 253
Greenwood, MS 38935
[P] 662.453.1089
[F] 662.451.7291
generalinfo@msdeltada.com

Judicial Process

Citizen's Involvement in the criminal justice system typically begins with them being a victim, witness, or defendant of a crime. Arrests are made generally by a judge-issued warrant or by a police officer observing a crime in process. Law enforcement may also arrest someone if it has probable cause to believe the person committed a criminal offense. When individuals are arrested they are routinely advised of their Miranda Rights upon arrest, advising them that they have the right to remain silent and that anything they say will be used against them in court. On being questioned, defendants have the right to have their attorney present or to have one appointed if they are indigent.

Felony defendants appear at a first appearance and have the charges reviewed. A judge will inquire if the defendant has an attorney. If low income, the defendant may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. No plea is entered at this time unless the defendant wishes to plead guilty or waives indictment and has an attorney present. All felony cases are presented to a grand jury in the county that the crime was committed. In the State of Mississippi, only a grand jury has the authority to indict an individual for a felony offense and require them to stand trial for the charges alleged in an affidavit and indictment.

If an indictment is issued, the defendant is bound over to stand trial or enter a guilty plea to the crimes alleged. When a criminal trial occurs all 12 jurors must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentences are decided by Circuit Court Judges in all criminal matters. In most cases a recommendation is made regarding imprisonment, probation, fines and restitution.