Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
December 15, 1998
Author: KRISTEN OSTENDORF, POST-GAZETTE STAFF WRITER
A 26-year-old Prospect man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to burning down a Jefferson Township church. Todd Davies, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of arson in the March 12 fire that caused $1.1 million in damage to the 400-member Calvary Baptist Church and Academy in Butler County.
The plea agreement calls for Davies to serve five years in prison followed by supervised release for one year. Sentencing is set for March.
According to an affidavit unsealed in June, Davies held a grudge against the church. He told a friend the church was a “cult” and the pastor had scammed his family out of thousands of dollars. Davies attended the church’s 90-student school during the 1980s, and his family contributed about $13,500 to the church, plus tuition money, according to court records.
Assistant U.S. District Attorney Shaun Sweeney told the court that DNA testing on blood and fingerprints pointed to Davies and Davies had injuries to his hand after the attack. Church windows and the windshield on a church bus were broken the night of the arson.
Also part of the plea agreement is a recommendation that Davies serve any prison time in a federal prison in Butner, N.C., which has a psychiatric facility. During the hearing, Davies told U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster he was on several psychiatric medications, including lithium and Prozac. He also told the judge he has received in-patient psychiatric treatment.
His attorney, Cynthia Reed Eddy, declined comment after the hearing. Representatives of Calvary Baptist Church and Academy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Davies is free on bond until the March hearing.