Sentences handed down in Providence arson case

Published 1:39 pm Thursday, June 2, 2011

By Stephen Dawkins | Assistant Managing Editor

Three men were sentenced Thursday in the case involving the burglary and arson of Providence Baptist Church in North Chilton County.

Bryan Christopher Henry and Billy Sherrell Ray will both serve at least two years of a 10-year sentence handed down by Circuit Court Judge John Bush at the Chilton County Courthouse.

Both were found guilty of burglary and theft but not arson.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Henry entered a guilty plea on the arson charge but withdrew it the next month.

Marcus Allen Brasher admitted taking part in the burglary, cooperated with authorities investigating the case and on Thursday received a lighter sentence than his counterparts.

Brasher’s plea agreement included four years in prison, but his sentence Thursday was for one year, and he has spent at least the past 12 months in Chilton County Jail after his bond was revoked in a separate case, so Brasher will be faced with probation but no additional jail time.

“Brasher was the one who confessed to the crime, confessed to driving the vehicle,” said C.J. Robinson, deputy district attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit. “Evidence showed that after the church was burglarized, the two others went back and burned it. We never had any evidence that Brasher was there when the church was set on fire.”

Providence Pastor Allen Foster spoke to Bush before the sentencing.

“What was done to us is flat-out wrong,” Foster said. “If any of these men had come to the church, if they were hungry or needed something, we would helped them.

“I want justice to be served.”

Bush said the men’s disregard for a church is an example of a society with deteriorating values.

“It’s one thing when we build a church and a tornado comes through and takes it down; it’s quite another when we have to rebuild our churches because of the stupidity and actions of others,” Bush said. “I don’t know what has happened to this world.”

Providence church, in North Chilton County, was burned on Jan. 12, 2008, and the three suspects were arrested soon after.

Also sentenced Thursday were:

•Quantes Perry was sentenced to 154 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $102,000 to 13 different victims in a case involving a series of break-ins.

•Stephanie Wells, who was arrested in June 2010 on charges of animal cruelty after allegedly attempting to kill a neighbor’s dog. Wells pled guilty to first-degree animal cruelty and received probation in addition to paying veterinarian bills associated with the case.

•Jonah Allen was sentenced to 11 years and Matthew Raymond was sentenced to nine years after convicted of armed robbery at the Exxon gas station just off Interstate 65 Exit 208. Prosecutors determined Allen entered the store with a gun while Raymond drove the getaway car.

“Our goal is to protect the public as well as define justice, and although we would like to see criminals off the street, with the state mandated budget cuts and prison overcrowding, sometimes incarceration becomes difficult, and I think these cases are a good example of that,” Robinson said. “I just hope this is a final chapter for the victims of these cases. I know it’s been a long process, but I thank them for cooperating with us and we hope to continue to serve the public as best we can.”