Sentencing to stand in church arson case

LIHUE — The man convicted of setting fire to the Kilauea Episcopal Church on the eve of Easter had his motion to reconsider sentencing denied Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Henry Matthew Garvey III, 51, of Kilauea, wanted the court to grant a deferred acceptance of his no-contest plea. It would have kept the conviction off his record after successful completion of felony probation.

State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato said the defendant is not questioning the judgment of the court at sentencing. The motion was filed with additional information that was not available to the court at the time.

The information available now shows that the defendant has a better grasp of his condition, medication and treatment, Sato said, and he plans to work with mental health support organizations in the future.

It comes down to the clear likelihood that the defendant will not re-offend, she said.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the state opposed the motion. The fire on April 7, 2012, could have destroyed a historic church were it not for a police officer on the scene who prevented the blaze from spreading before firefighters arrived. The damage was contained to a rear pew and wall. However, damage to stained glass windows, carpet, chandelier, lamps and other church items was extensive.

The defendant, who was intoxicated and in an agitated state, called the responders and then remained at the scene shouting obscenities, Vogt said. The state had asked for the maximum 18 months jail term for five-year probation after Garvey was found fit to proceed to trial.

The court took into consideration the defendant’s remorse and improvement under care and supervised release, Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said. It was why the court agreed to sentence him to a five-year probation on March 21 and to no more jail time than the 194 days time already served.

During sentencing, Valenciano said Garvey’s progress with treatment was positive, but he denied the deferment to have a record of the offense should the defendant re-offend in the future.

The second-degree arson charge is a class B felony, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and up to a $25,000 fine. Three charges of second-degree criminal property damage, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest were dismissed by the state in the no-contest plea deal.

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