Defendant pleads guilty to first-degree arson


TAYLOR COUNTY—A special prosecutor presented a case in Taylor County Circuit Court on Thursday.

Prosecuting Attorney JT Hodges was present on behalf of the state of West Virginia to present to 19th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats a negotiated plea agreement between himself and Robert Wayne Clemens.

Clemens was originally indicted in January, after he had been charged with first-degree arson, burning or attempting to burn insured property and conspiracy to commit a felony, following a July 2016 fire that destroyed a residence.

On Thursday, the defendant entered into a plea deal with the state and agreed to plead guilty to arson in the first degree.

As part of the agreement, he would be responsible for paying restitution for the insurance money received for the home and would agree to give a complete debriefing to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The plea agreement further noted that the state would agree to incorporate a case being heard in magistrate court and would dismiss those charges. Additionally, the state agreed that Clemens would not be prosecuted as a habitual offender.

For is actions, Clemens is facing a possible penalty of anywhere between two and 20 years in a state penitentiary, as the time served would be a definite sentence.

According to court documents, the offense occurred on July 28, 2016, when Clemens conspired with Christopher Lee Shroyer and Amanda Lynn Deavers, who both previously pled guilty, to burn down a home that they were in the process of purchasing from Walter Hagan Thomas in hopes of receiving more than $100,000 in insurance money.

According to Clemens, he was paid $3,500 to burn the home. He told the court he had used a propane torch combined with combustible materials to incinerate the property.

As part of the plea agreement, Clemens would undergo a presentence investigation before he would be sentenced in the matter.

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