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2012-01-26

Suspect arrested in alleged Lakehills arson

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

An arrest has been made in a suspected arson fire in Lakehills.

The incident was originally reported in the Thursday, Jan. 19, edition of the Bandera County Courier.

The fire had occurred at approximately 5 pm, Monday, Jan. 9, in a doublewide mobile home located on the grounds of the Lakehills United Methodist Church. The trailer has originally served as a church office, had recently been sold to a third party. At the time of the fire, the structure still remained on church property at 150 Avenue J, according to Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith.

Almost immediately, Stith began investigating the blaze as a possible arson. The conflagration completely destroyed the mobile home.

After presenting a probable cause affidavit to Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Bobbie Jo Basinger, Stith obtained an arrest warrant for Jonathan Pate, 18, of Lakehills on Thursday, Jan. 19. That afternoon, Precinct 2 Constable Ernest Reich arrested the suspect, who has been charged with second-degree felony arson of a building.

Stith indicated that the suspect had been brought in for questioning prior to his arrest. Chief Deputy Richard Smith of the Bandera County Sheriff's Office noted that, after being read his Miranda Rights, Pate had talked freely to Cpl. Danny Sanchez of the department's Criminal Investigation Division during that initial interview.

For Stith's part, the next step will be to painstakingly build a case against Pate that will be taken to the Bandera County Grand Jury in February or March.

"I'm following all the necessary guidelines set forth by District Attorney Bruce Curry," Stith said in an interview on Monday, Jan. 23. "However, at this point, the evidence appears to be sufficient for an indictment. Statements made by Jonathan Pate seemed to reinforce him as a primary suspect."

At press time, Pate remained incarcerated in the Bandera County Jail; no bond has been set for his release.