OGDEN — A 19-year-old accused of starting a fire in an Ogden church in June has pleaded guilty to amended charges.
Michael Donovan Averett, 19, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to reduced charges as part of a plea agreement. Averett pleaded guilty to one count of attempted arson, a third-degree felony, and single counts of attempted burglary and attempted criminal mischief, both class A misdemeanors.
According to Averett’s plea agreement, his defense attorney and prosecutors will ask a district court judge to sentence Averett to 48 months of probation. They will also be asking for Averett to take anger management courses and pay a restitution amount of $9,600.
On June 28, two maintenance workers arrived at a church located at 550 E. 900 North in Ogden. The building belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to court documents.
One maintenance worker found damaged water pipes in the building, while the other worker found a glass door that had been “completely shattered” at some point during the prior night. A police officer was present and assisted the two workers as they sealed the building. While this was happening, one of the maintenance workers reportedly heard “items being broken inside,” according to charging documents.
When the officer went to investigate, he found two males inside the church who said they were “exploring” the church. One was identified as a juvenile, the other was identified as Averett. After police took down their information, the two were allowed to leave.
Later as the maintenance workers were walking through the church, they noticed the smell of smoke and later found a toy box that was engulfed with flames. Fire crews were dispatched to the church around 10:35 a.m., according to a press release from the Ogden Fire Department.
No injuries have been reported in connection to the fire. A total of 20 firefighters from the Ogden Fire Department and the Weber Fire District responded to the scene.
ATF agents and local police were later able to track down Averett and the juvenile in the Salt Lake City area. The two were interviewed at the Sandy Police Department, where Averett allegedly admitted to breaking items in the church and starting the fire, according to the affidavit.
It was not immediately clear if the juvenile was charged in connection with the arson, or if he or she was charged, what the status of the case was as of Monday afternoon.
Averett signed the plea agreement Wednesday and was ordered to be released from the Weber County Jail pending his sentencing hearing. He was being held in jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond amount. Averett was not in jail custody as of Monday afternoon.
Averett’s next court appearance will be for his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 6 in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.