FAIRMONT - A three-day trial was scheduled to begin today in Martin County District Court for the man accused of starting a fire at the Lincoln School building in Fairmont in April 2012.
Instead, Timothy Jude Brickner, 21, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday morning in three cases against him, including a first-degree arson charge.
Guilty pleas in the arson case, along with a terroristic threats charge and a charge of falsely reporting a crime were entered with stays of adjudication, meaning that after if he successfully completes probation, Brickner will only have misdemeanor convictions showing on his record.
Probation for the three cases, which could run up to 20 years, would be concurrent.
"He was looking at 48 months in prison," said Brickner's attorney, Ryan Wood, following the plea hearing Tuesday. "That was one of the reasons we were willing to plea."
The earliest of Brickner's cases dates back to 2011. While he was a student at Martin County West High School, he was charged with a misdemeanor for falsely reporting a crime after using a fake Facebook account to start several rumors, including the murder of a homeless hitchhiker.
The most serious case against Brickner was the arson charge, in which he was accused of setting stage curtains on fire at the Lincoln School on April 27, 2012. Brickner was a student at the Alternative Learning Center, which was housed in Lincoln School at the time.
A third case against Brickner was filed in the fall of 2012, when Brickner left threatening messages on his Facebook page against a Fairmont police officer investigating the arson case.
"The school and law enforcement were satisified with the resolution of the case," said Assistant County Attorney Mike Trushenski. "He has a lot on the line, because if there is a violation of his probation, he could still be looking at prison time."
Brickner has been held in the Martin County Jail since August, and is now looking to relocate to Iowa, where the rest of his family now resides.
"He's got his G.E.D. now, he's looking to move away, and start over," Wood said. "We wanted him unscathed enough to be able to say he's not a convicted felon."
While Brickner could be looking at as much as 20 years of probation, the specific probation period and conditions of his probation will be determined at a sentencing scheduled for Jan. 21.