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Simmons Pleads Guilty to Arson – Confesses to a Decade of Fires

[POLK COUNTY ] – Justin R. Simmons, age 30 of Wickes, AR, plead guilty in case No. CR 2013-37 to one count each of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, a Class “B” Felony and Breaking or Entering, Class “D” Felony. He also plead guilty to one count of Arson, a Class “A” Felony in Case No. CR 2013-57. In exchange for his plea of guilty to these cases, the State recommended a sentence of 240 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Simmons was ordered to pay $88,000 in restitution for damage done to an abandoned structure in Cove and the Midway Independent Baptist Church.

For more than a decade, Simmons had been a person of interest in several suspicious fires in South Polk County and Eastern Oklahoma. After his arrest on a warrant, Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronnie Richardson interrogated Simmons. During the interrogation, Simmons admitted that beginning in his late teens, he had started more than twenty fires in Polk County and Eastern Oklahoma.

Many of the fires Simmons confessed to setting had not even been reported to law enforcement. Of those fires Simmons confessed to setting, only a fraction met the legal definition of Arson. Unfortunately, most of his confessed misdeeds are barred from prosecution under the statute of limitations. Simmons may also face additional charges for the recent fires he set in Oklahoma.