By Kyle Woosley
Samuel MacFarland, 19, criminal justice major from Williamsburg, has been indicted on charges brought on from a fire at Commonwealth Hall in October.
In October, McFarland allegedly caused two bulletin boards on the 8th and 9th floors of Commonwealth Hall to catch fire, causing the building to be evacuated. The fire triggered the building’s sprinkler system causing more than $1,000 in damages. McFarland was also arrested the night of the fire for public intoxication.
McFarland was released from Madison County Detention Center on a property bond in October and is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 12.
In December, Detective Mark McKinney with EKU Police presented the case to the Madison County Grand Jury. The jury then chose to indict McFarland with first-degree arson, first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree criminal mischief, promoting contraband and possession of a controlled substance.
In Kentucky, arson is a Class A felony and punishable by 20 years or more in prison. Wanton endangerment and criminal mischief are Class D felonies and punishable by up to five years in prison. Promoting contraband and possession of a controlled substance are misdemeanors.
“These are very serious charges,” Lt. Brandon Collins said. “If he is found guilty, then the sentencing would be affixed by a recommendation by a jury and a judge to implement his final sentencing.”
McFarland’s indictment came as no surprise to Sarina Zimmerman, 19, an elementary education major from Lancaster, who said she expected it.
“I had seen him earlier that day and he was pretty messed up,” Zimmerman said. “I knew after talking to him.”
The indictment also came as no shock to Rachel Haag, 19, a psychology major from Cleveland, who claims to have ran into McFarland in Commonwealth periodically.
“I was afraid if they let him come back, there would be more incidents,” Haag said.
Because of McFarland’s ban from campus and indictment, Haag said she feels much safer in Commonwealth this semester.
McFarland is being represented by Smith and Smith located in Corbin, who are detesting the charges.
“We just maintain that Samuel is innocent,” said Brandon West, McFarland’s attorney. “We don’t feel enough evidence has been produced.”
A trial date has not yet been set. Officials are still offering a $1,000 reward for any information regarding the incident.