CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A judge called a homeless man's arson crime "horrendous" and sentenced him to the maximum 20 years in prison.
Clinton Simpson, 59, was convicted by a jury earlier this month of first-degree arson after they decided he was the one who set fire to the West Side home where his family lived.
His defense attorney, Justin Collin, insisted at trial and again Tuesday that there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict him. He asked Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom to set aside that jury verdict.
When the judge denied that request, Collin said a minimum sentence was appropriate for the man who he said most likely would be deported to Jamaica after he served his term.
"I think that if you commit a crime in West Virginia, the state has an obligation to its citizens for a sentence appropriate to the crime that was committed," the judge said.
"I'm not impressed with the argument that we should leave it to see what immigration is going to do or not do," he said.
"He committed an extremely, extremely dangerous felony," Bloom said. "I feel that a 20-year sentence is appropriate. I would imposed a greater sentence if it was available to me."
Simpson was arrested after a fire occurred at 600 Randolph St. on June 22. Although no one actually saw him light the fire, witnesses did see him pour gasoline around the home and said he was inebriated earlier and fought with his wife.