Old Bedford Middle School arson suspect pleads guilty
BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - In January 2020 the old Bedford Middle School went up in flames.
The town landmark was left damaged as police began their investigation.
In February 2020 Daniel Flint was arrested and charged.
Friday afternoon, over a year and a half later, Flint appeared in court for a plea hearing.
He entered Friday’s hearing charged with arson and statutory burglary.
He pleaded guilty to both charges, but his attorney asked the official finding of guilt be postponed.
That, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance, is because of Flint’s mental condition.
“Because of a diagnosis of autism, his defense attorney has requested the court defer adjudication, that means the official finding of guilt, until a pre-sentence report is prepared and we come back to court for formal sentencing,” said Nance.
As for the finding of guilt and sentencing, Flint’s attorney asked the court that his autism diagnosis be taken into consideration.
That comes after recent Virginia law changes that allow for mental health to be considered.
Nance says the commonwealth won’t support that because of other previous court appearances by Flint.
“Mr. Flint has already been before Judge Updike before on very serious matters. Those, the commonwealth took that diagnosis into consideration at previous time as well, and unfortunately, has come back before the court charged with yet another very serious crime,” said Nance.
While in the hearing, Nance shared some details of an interview Flint had with a Bedford investigator prior to his arrest.
He says Flint told the investigator he entered the middle school through a side window with intent to cause damage.
“With the intent to cause damage to the building, saying, he just wanted to see it burn,” said Nance, adding Flint told the investigator he used aerosol cans and a lighter to start several small fires which amassed into the large fire.
Flint can still withdraw his guilty pleas before sentencing, which is scheduled for March.
His attorney declined to comment.
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