WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — The arson case involving a teen with ties to former Sen. R.C. Soles is taking an Easter break.
Before recessing for the weekend today, the judge ruled on evidence in the trial of Allen “Frog” Strickland that could have a big impact on the case.
After hearing from a witness from Scottsdale Insurance Company, Judge Gary Trawick had to decide what information jurors could hear.
Trawick said the witness testified to the fact that Strickland did not know that he had an active policy for his home at the time of the July 2009 fire. He also said the witness said the insurance company never received a completed filing from Strickland with all items in the home that were destroyed.
Strickland’s attorney Craig Wright told the court his client filed a claim for his car window, which he broke because his keys were in the burning home. Wright says only when Strickland was filing this claim did he learn he had insurance on his home that he could also claim.
Prosecutors say they believe Strickland started the fire, and if he had more time and was not arrested for other charges, he would have deceived the insurance company by collecting funds that were not rightfully his.
The judge says just because Strickland notified the insurance company that his house was destroyed does not mean he planned to collect money from the company.
Because the insurance company said Strickland never filed a content form, which means the process was not completed, the judge dismissed evidence prosecutors say proves Strickland intended to collect more than $100,000. Trawick says there is no proof that Strickland wanted that much money. This means the teen’s charges drop from a class C felony to a class H felony.
With this decision, the prosecution asked the judge to recess until next week. The trial resumes Monday morning.
The judge asked the jury not to listen to any coverage of the trial this weekend in order to keep an open mind. He says he wants to make sure nothing influences their decision other than the allowed evidence.