Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship.
A man has been sentenced to about 16 years after burning an LGBTQ flag hanging from a church in Iowa.
Adolfo Martinez, 30, was found guilty of stealing an LGBT banner that was being flown at Ames United Church of Christ. He then went to the Dangerous Curves Gentlemen’s Club and set the flag on fire outside the club.
Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship, the police report read.
On Wednesday, Martinez was sentenced to prison on convictions of committing a hate crime, third-degree arson in violation of individual rights and reckless use of fire as a habitual offender.
Adolfo Martinez did not fight the charges, saying he committed the act “intentionally”
Pastor Eileen Gebbie of the Ames United Church of Christ posted a statement on the church Facebook page saying the church did not press charges against Martinez.
Martinez told police that he lit the banner on fire with lighter fluid and a lighter, according to the Des-Moines Register.
The hate crime charges were added because Martinez is suspected of criminal mischief against someone’s property because of “what it represents as far as sexual orientation,” Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said.
He is the first person in the county to be convicted of a hate crime, she added.
Martinez faced a maximum of five years in prison for the hate crime and arson charge. He also faced a maximum of 13 months for the other charges, but because he is a habitual offender, he was eligible to be sentenced to a longer term.
“Basically, he was looking at three years but as soon as he opened his mouth and said ‘This is why I did it,’ he gave them the motivation of why it occurred and he turned it into a hate crime,” said Drake University Law Professor Bob Rigg.
Police Commander Jason Tuttle said the extra patrol was called because of social media posts protesting Martinez’ sentencing.
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