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Arsonist who caused $400K damage to 2 Mormon meetinghouses gets probation

Published: Tuesday, July 26 2011 12:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A man charged with setting fire to two South Salt Lake church meetinghouses — causing more than $400,000 in damage — has been sentenced to probation.

Patrick Adam Ehat, 27, was charged with two counts of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, and two counts of burglary, a third-degree felony, in connection with fires set on Oct. 30, 2010. The fires were started at two LDS meetinghouses at 3219 S. 300 East and 2702 S. Main.

Ehat pleaded guilty to the two arson charges last week and was sentenced to two terms of five years to life in prison, which were both suspended.

He was ordered by 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton to spend three years on probation, pay restitution in an amount to be determined and successfully complete mental health court, court records state.

The burglary charges were dismissed in exchange for the man's plea.

According to charges, Ehat spread some kind of "ignitable liquid accelerant" on the sacrament table, podium, organ and piano in the chapel of one meetinghouse and a similar liquid was used to ignite the fire on a couch inside the other church building.

The only motive known for the fire was found in charging documents, in which Ehat allegedly told police he started the fires because he "believed the LDS Church had lied to him."

Following the incidents involving the fires, the man's parents issued a statement saying they couldn't begin to speculate about a motive, as Ehat had "limited his contact" with them in the recent months.

"We are confident that medical professionals will assess his mental health," they said in the statement. "We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and grieve at the damage caused."

According to charging documents, Ehat admitted to police that he entered the churches through the windows and set the fires intentionally.

Friends of who knew Ehat while he was growing up in Fresno, Calif., said he served a LDS Church mission to Brazil. 

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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