MANCHESTER, N.H. — A man accused of setting fire to a house and setting it on fire was found guilty Monday of arson and felony burglary, and his wife pleaded guilty to one felony count of making a false statement.
In his sentencing hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney David Wills said Kevin Hightower, 38, of Manchester, New Hampshire, told the jury that he had no intention of causing any damage to the home or its contents and that he did not want the fire to become the “tent-city” that he described in court.
The jury deliberated for five hours before deciding unanimously that Hightowers arson and burglary conviction should be overturned.
“I’m very happy with the outcome of this case,” Wills told the jurors.
“It was a difficult case to make and I’m glad I didn’t have to make it as difficult as I did.
I think the jury was willing to believe that.”
Prosecutors said Hightoes arson and criminal burglary conviction were based on the theory that Hights house was damaged in the fire, and he admitted to trying to burn it down.
Hightos wife, Jessica, pleaded guilty last week to a felony count that she falsely told a state trooper that she did not know about the fire when she told the trooper that the home had been “damaged in the last couple of years.”
Wills said Hights arson conviction was based on Hightows knowledge of the structure and its condition and his knowledge that it was on fire.
Prosecutors said the home was on the market for $8,000 and had a water heater and other utilities, including a roof deck that was covered in tar and silt, and a garage with a bed.
Wills noted that Jessica Hightose was a college student when the fire broke out and that the family had not lived in the home since.
WILLS said that Hs arson conviction should not have been upheld because of the state trooper’s testimony about the condition of the home.
“The evidence in this case was so overwhelming, it was almost impossible for a jury to conclude otherwise,” Willing said.
Hightowers attorneys argued that Jessica and her husband, who is an attorney, should not be convicted of criminal arson because of his knowledge of their home condition.
Jessica Hightores defense attorney, John E. Fortunato, argued that Highowers knowledge of his condition was limited to the fact that he knew the house was on a city lot.
He said Jessica was not a licensed fireman and that her knowledge of her husbands condition was based solely on her knowledge that he was on welfare and that Jessica had given her husband a job to pay for food.WILLSBURG, S.C. — A man accused in a case that began as a simple home invasion and escalated into arson is being sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.
John Wightower Jr. will spend more than 10 years behind bars for setting fire and breaking into a house in South Carolina’s Wofford County.
Authorities say Wightowers wife, a state employee, tried to set the fire and was not home at the time.
She was arrested on Jan. 29.
They said Wightow’s girlfriend told police she was home from work and her phone records indicated she was away.
On Feb. 6, Wightoures wife and girlfriend told investigators that they were trying to find Jessica Houghton to help with the home invasion.
Authorities said they also heard the couple was having problems with their welfare.
Investigators found a note that Jessica said she left on the home to a family member.
In addition, investigators found a video message on the couple’s phone that said: “I hate my life.”
Authorities said Jessica Highors boyfriend, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of burglary and felony arson for his role in the burglary and arson.
He pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit burglary and second-degree burglary and was sentenced to five years in jail.