Knoxville — Nicholas Wade Carter, 19, did not admit to setting 110 East Robinson on fire, but he believes that there is sufficient evidence against him that he did not want to risk going to trial.
Carter made an Alford Plea in Marion County District Court this morning, on a charge of second-degree arson. He is accused of starting the fire at the aforementioned address in March 2013.
The plea agreement reached includes dropping two simple misdemeanor charges against Carter. At the time of sentencing the State will seek a 10-year prison sentence - to be suspended in favor of probation - plus court costs.
Since the Knoxville fire, Carter has been charged with other crimes. He spent time in a Missouri prison for first-degree tampering and has been charged with possession of contraband in jail in Monroe County.
Currently on parole from Missouri, and probation from Monroe County, Judge John Lloyd asked Carter if he understood that pleading guilty to arson would likely be construed as violations of both of these status. Carter told Lloyd that he understood the consequences.
Every guilty plea requires a defendant to waive numerous rights before a judge can accept the plea. Lloyd questioned Carter as to why the defendant did not want to proceed with a trial.
"What are you gaining?" Lloyd asked.
"Nothing," Carter immediately replied. His reason for pleading guilty is that the State is unlikely to recommend probation if he is found guilty by a jury.
Lloyd accepted Carter's plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered and Carter has been released on his own recognizance. The defense said he has a job and a home with his father waiting. Lloyd placed parameters on the release, contingent upon Carter living with his father and his release is supervised by a pre-sentence investigator.