Man accused of Brigham City arson accepts plea deal

May 21 2011 - 7:02am

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Police say 26-year-old Luke Hunsaker confessed to starting a fire at an historic building in Brigham City.
Though he faces prison time, officials  recommend probation so he can work and pay restitution.
Police say 26-year-old Luke Hunsaker confessed to starting a fire at an historic building in Brigham City.
Though he faces prison time, officials  recommend probation so he can work and pay restitution.

BRIGHAM CITY -- The man who confessed to starting a fire in the historic Merrill Planing Mill in Brigham City has pleaded guilty to charges related to the blaze.

In a plea deal, Luke Hunsaker, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted arson, a third-degree felony, amended from the original charge of arson, a second-degree felony.

Hunsaker also pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary, also a third-degree felony.

He will be sentenced July 7 in 1st District Court.

Each charge carries a possible penalty of zero to five years in Utah State Prison.

However, the recommendation given to Judge Clint Judkins is that Hunsaker be placed on probation, pay restitution to be determined at sentencing and maintain full-time employment.

Hunsaker's attorney, Jon Bunderson, also asked the judge not to order prison time.

However, if prison time cannot be avoided, Bunderson asked Judkins to consider ordering incarceration when it would least impact Hunsaker's employment.

"We want him to keep a steady stream of income so he can pay his restitution," Bunderson said.

Brigham City police say Hunsaker confessed to starting the fire at the planing mill in the early morning of Nov. 10, 2008. He was arrested this past January.

Firefighters extinguished the flames, but the fire reignited later in the morning. The exterior stone walls are all that remains of the building.

The mill, built in 1875, was the second historic Brigham City building to burn in a three-month period.

Hunsaker was questioned at the time but denied any involvement, and there was little physical evidence at the time to tie him to the incident, police said.

But police interviewed Hunsaker again after receiving an anonymous tip. That's when Hunsaker confessed.

On Aug. 26, 2008, a fire believed to be arson damaged the J.H. Bott and Sons Monument Co.

No arrests have been made in that case.

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