Wakonda arson trial rescheduled

Wakonda arson trial rescheduled by David Lias The trial of a Wakonda fireman charged with entering and setting fire to a Wakonda church rectory has been delayed until early next year.

The trial for George "Al" Davis, originally scheduled for Dec. 2-4, has been rescheduled to Jan. 20-22, according to Clay County State's Attorney Tami Bern.

"We had to move the trial date because we sent evidence for forensic analysis, and it takes time to get the results back," Bern said.

Davis, 30, is charged with the fire occurring on or about April 25 at the St. Patrick Catholic Church rectory, Wakonda. The Clay County Sheriff's Office investigated.

Davis faces a second-degree arson charge and an alternative third-degree arson charge. He also faces a first-degree burglary charge and alternative third-degree burglary charge.

Second-degree arson and first-degree burglary are Class 2 felonies with maximum sentences of 25 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Third-degree arson and third-degree burglary are Class 4 felonies with a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Davis remains free on a $500 personal recognizance bond. The trial is set for the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion.

The rectory was unoccupied at the time that Davis allegedly tried to set the structure on fire.

According to search warrant documents, an affidavit requesting a search warrant, filed April 29 by Clay County Deputy Sheriff Les Kephart, states that the rectory fire was reported by Davis. He stated that he observed a fire inside of the rectory while walking his dog.

The affidavit states that a heavy rainstorm was occurring at the time Davis reported the fire. Firemen responded to the call, but the fire inside the house had extinguished voluntarily.

The fire appeared to have been set by someone breaking a window of the rectory and throwing a paper napkin/paper towel covered with accelerant into the residence.

Davis had a cut along his right hand which would be consistent with the breaking of the window, according to the affidavit. Firemen also witnessed blood on his jacket and jeans.

This injury would not have occurred while responding to the fire, the affidavit states, because Davis put on his fire gear prior to responding. The blood was on his clothes that were underneath his fire gear.

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