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Rockingham County Fire Marshal Thinks Harley Fulp's Sentence Is Too Lenient

11:57 PM, Dec 18, 2013   |    comments
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Stokesdale, NC-- The Rockingham County fire marshal believes that the young man who admitted to burning a church should do prison time.

What is the right punishment for someone who burns down a church?

State law says the maximum punishment for 18-year-old, Harley Fulp is 25 to 42 months in prison.

That's not what he got and some people in Rockingham County are not pleased.

The Rockingham County fire marshal, Robert Cardwell shared with WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford a letter he sent to all fire departments and investigators in the county.

In it he says: Harley Fulp walked out of court on Monday with a slap on his wrist, may he answer to a greater power than the judicial system for these actions one day.

Nearly one year ago, just days before Christmas, Gideon Grove United Methodist Church in Stokesdale burned to the ground. It was ruled arson. Investigators worked the case for months before arresting Harley Fulp in April.

Read here: Harley Fulp Charged With Setting Gideon Grove UMC Fire Released On Bail

Earlier this week, Fulp admitted to setting the church on fire by breaking a window, pouring gasoline through it, and throwing a lit match through the window. The judge sentenced Fulp to 20 to 36 months probation, 100 hours of community service rebuilding the church, and reading aloud a written apology to the congregation.

The maximum sentence would have allowed for 25-42 months prison time.

"I explained to Harley, I said you've been given a second chance, now it's going to depend on what you do with this," said Wanda Lancaster, the pastor at Gideon Grove United Methodist Church.

Judge Todd Burke told WFMY that he did not sentence Fulp to prison time based on the fact that Fulp was young and had a clean record but the biggest factor was the remarks made by the Pastor in court.

"I did not feel that prison was the answer for an 18-year-old," added Pastor Wanda Lancaster.

But not everyone at the church agrees.

Lancaster said, "Some of them would have liked to see a harsher sentence. And I understand where they're coming from."

Fire Marshal Cardwell said, "I'm not saying I don't forgive Harley Fulp for what he did, what I'm saying is Harley Fulp is not paying for his actions."

Judge Burke told WFMY News 2 that he doesn't think the sentence in lenient, specifically because Fulp's community service will be spent rebuilding the church. He also said he has the utmost respect for the investigators. He wishes they would have been present in court but the fire marshal.  The sheriff said investigators didn't know about the hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bridge was on the case. Bridge told us that during the sentencing she told the judge she thought prison time was appropriate.

WFMY News 2

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