Augusta man sentenced to seven years on arson charge

An Augusta man was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison for paying two men $350 to set his house on fire last Sept. 11.

Jerry Harris Jr., 43, must also serve 13 years on probation as part of his guilty plea to first-degree arson.

In a statement to Superior Court Judge David Roper, Harris said he was having financial and marital troubles that compelled him to hire the two men. Harris said he didn’t know who the arsonists were, just two men he met at apartments behind the abandoned Regency Mall.

Richmond County sheriff’s investigators said the house in the 2400 block of Hickory Cove Road, in a neighborhood south of Tobacco Road, appeared to be ransacked and several fires intentionally set inside. Harris became a suspect when investigators found family heirlooms and electronics in his car and he eventually confessed to his role, according to Assistant District Attorney John O’Neal.

The extent of the damage was unavailable Thursday, but O’Neal said the house was valued at $180,000.

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