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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Judge Cline revokes bond of Mitchell Arson suspect on separate charge

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

MITCHELL - OCTOBER 18, 2023 - Editors note: The orginal story had four occupants, that information came from an interview with Mitchell Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Coble, in the police report there were only 3 living at the building.

A Mitchell man accused of a setting a fire at a Mitchell, Indiana rooming house Friday night appeared in Lawrence County Superior Court II Wednesday afternoon with Judge Bob Cline presiding and Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II in the court on the State of Indiana's behalf.

During Justin Bowden's, 35, Mitchell, Indiana initial hearing Judge Bob Cline advised him a bond in another criminal case has been revoked.

Bowden appearing by video from the Lawrence County Jail and where he will remain briefly answered questions with the proceeding lasting about five minutes.

Judge Cline entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and appointed the Lawrence County Public Defender Agency to represent him.

The three Arson counts are Level - 4 felonies with a bond on the arson charges at $50,000 surety or cash with 10 percent required.

Bowden charges include the following :

  • Arson - knowingly damage by fire the dwelling of another without consent, owned by Nolo Properties.

  • Arson - damage by fire property of another under circumstances that endanger, owned by NOLO Properties

  • Arson - Damage by fire property of another where pecuniary loss is at least $5,000 all three counts are Level - 4 Felonies.

The punishment on each count can include 2 years - 12 Years prison, with an advisory sentence of 6 years, including a fine of up to $10,000

Lawrence County Prosecutor Sam Arp II has filed a habitual offender enhancement and if convicted on any of any of the three counts can carry additional prison sentence of 6-20 years.

According to the police report at 10:34 pm on Friday October 13,2023 Mitchell Police Officer Joshua Turner responded to 504 West Oak Street on reports of a structure fire with occupants inside.

Officer Turner finding thick smoke and orange glow when arriving at the door. Officer Turner loudly asking whether anyone was inside. Three occupants made it out safely one of the occupants a hospice patient who was bed ridden at the time.

One woman telling Officer Turner that all the three occupants made it out of the building.

Lawrence County Sheriffs Department arriving to assist Mitchell Police Department.

Witnesses told Mitchell Police Department that Justin Bowden made comments about getting rid of the building while at the American Legion earlier that evening.

Bowden was seen walking away from the building at 504 West Oak Street and smoke coming from the building soon after making those comments.

Bowden was located at a residence in the 1200 block of West Oak, and Bowden telling officers he did not want to talk with them.

Officer Turner detaining Bowden as the police department went back to the American Legion where Bowden and two others were earlier that evening.

The other two men telling officers Bowden departed from them from them before returning the Oak Street address.

Bowden was questioned again in a police car about the incident to which Bowden once again declined to speak with officers.

Bowden was seen going into the 504 West Oak Street address and caught on a nearby camera.

Bowden made comments about " cleaning up the streets of the druggies their own way,"

Indiana State Fire Marshal Office investigator Joshua Watterson spoke with Bowden who told him he was at the American Legion Post drinking and left with two other people and stopped to talk with some people in a vehicle. The fire marshal pointed out to Bowden he was in fact seen on video at 504 West Oak.

Bowden admitting he was on the porch of the residence checking on a resident. Bowden admitting to knocking on the door of the building. Bowden eventually admitting he went inside the residence.

Bowden denied making statements about getting rid of the building to the fire investigator.

However, Bowden eventually told a person that he was with; that he lit the stuffing in the ceiling. But denied setting the fire to both the Mitchell Police Department officers and the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office.

Mitchell Police Officer Turner was assisted by Mitchell Police Chief Troy Lobosky, LCSD Officer Shaun Cabral, Lawrence County Sheriff deputies Andrew Tillett, and Carter, Indiana State Fire Marshal Joshua Watterson.

ORGINAL STORY: OCTOBER 14, 2023 - A Mitchell man who is accused of setting a fire at a Mitchell rooming house Friday night has been charged with three counts of arson.

Photo: Justin Scott Bowden has been charged with three counts of arson

Justin Scott Bowden, Mitchell has been charged with Arson - knowingly damage by fire the dwelling of another without consent, Arson - damage by fire property of another under circumstances that endanger, Arson - Damage by fire property of another where pecuniary loss is at least all three counts are Level - 4 Felonies.

Bowden's initial hearing on the charges is on Wednesday in Lawrence County Superior Court 2 at 1:00 pm before Judge Bob Cline.

At 10:34 pm on Friday night Mitchell and Marion Township was dispatched to 504 West Oak Street in Mitchell on reports a person maybe trapped.

When firefighters arrival all four occupants was able to make it out of the residence.

One person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. That person was treated by IU Lifeline Ambulance personnel but refused transport to the hospital.

Neighbors in the area seen Bowden running from the scene after intentionally setting the fire.

The Mitchell Police Department who was assisted by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department contacted the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office to conduct the fire investigation. The act was caught on camera.

Mitchell Police Department was able to quickly located Bowden and was detained. Bowden was eventually arrested and booked into the Lawrence County Jail 5:00 am Saturday morning.

The American Red Cross assisted the four occupants of the home.

Firefighters battled the fire late Friday night into Saturday morning after strong winds complicated firefighting efforts.

At 2:35 am Saturday a full call out for manpower by both departments when the fire rekindled.

The building was a total loss leaving the occupants homeless.

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