Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 6, 2013

Roger's Park pavilion fire costs arsonist 10 years

By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — The man who admitted setting fire to two Goshen park pavilions last year was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday.

Nicholas Lynch, 20, 204 Mount Vernon, Goshen, will also serve five years on probation under the sentence handed down by Elkhart Superior Court 2 Judge Stephen Bowers. Lynch was given credit for 241 days he’s been incarcerated.

Lynch set fire to the Rogers Park Pavilion March 21. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Lynch told police “that he was stoned when he arrived at the park.”

“Lynch advised that he wanted a ‘high’ so he decided to light a trash can on fire,” reads the affidavit signed by Goshen police Detective Mitchell Herschberger. “He advised that he slid the can close to the pillars and lit the trash on fire. Once it spread a little he left and went towards downtown.”

Investigators also tied Lynch to the July 2 arson at the Oakridge Park pavilion. Jose Rangel of Goshen has also been charged in connection with the Oakridge fire. His next appearance in Superior Court 2 is March 11.

In addition, Lynch pleaded guilty to twice setting fire to an ex-friend’s truck. Court documents indicate that in March 2012, he poured lighter fluid all over the inside of the cab, set it on fire and fled the scene.

In May of that year, Lynch returned to slash the tires on the vehicle. He then made a firebomb out of a beer bottle, rag and lighter fluid. Lynch told police he opened up the back of the truck and threw the firebomb inside.

Lynch’s attorney, Bridgette Greene, said her client understood the stupidity with which he acted. She said Lynch has a serious substance abuse issue he needs to address, and also needs counseling for mental health issues.

In court Monday morning, Lynch apologized for his actions. While in jail, Lynch said, he came to understand the damage he’d done.

“I just would like a chance to prove myself as a citizen,” he told Judge Bowers.

Referencing a letter Lynch had written to the court, Bowers said, “It is apparent you have learned something from 241 days incarceration.” However, the judge also pointed out that Lynch’s case involved repeated incidents and multiple victims.

“...You victimized an entire community by this action, and for no good reason,” Bowers said.

The amount of restitution Lynch will have to pay is to be determined through the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program. If an amount can’t be determined via VORP, court staff reported, another court hearing will be held.