July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Medina grad pleads guilty to arson in theater fire

MEDINA — A 19-year-old Medina High graduate was convicted Monday of setting fire in June to the Medina Performing Arts Center on the school’s campus.

Davon L. Phillips, of 345 W. Friendship St., changed his plea to guilty from not guilty as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that reduced his felony charges.

Davon Phillips

Davon Phillips

He was convicted of arson, a third-degree felony. He had been charged with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony.

Police said Phillips, who graduated in June, was employed at the arts center as a custodial worker as part of the Medina County summer work experience program sponsored by Medina County Workforce Development and Job and Family Services.

County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler scheduled Phillips’ sentencing hearing for May 1. He faces three years in prison for the reduced charge, down from 11 years on the original charge.

Phillips was represented by attorney David Gedrock.

The fire caused about $203,000 in damages, Medina Schools Business Director Jon Burkhart said. The district met a deductible, and insurance paid for the rest.

City Fire Chief Robert Painter originally estimated the damage to be between $40,000 and $50,000, mostly from smoke and water damage.

“That’s what we were expecting the damage to be at first,” Burkhart said, “but once we got in and saw exactly what was damaged, we realized it would be more.”

He said the costs included damage to draperies, cleaning, painting and deodorizing.

“There were some pretty expensive processes in there,” Burkhart said. “You’re talking a whole lot of labor and a whole lot of time that ran up the costs.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.