A man from Ames, Iowa, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for stealing an LGBT flag from a local church and subsequently burning it, next to a local gay club, The Washington Times reported Thursday.
Adolfo Martinez, 30, was sentenced to one year on a charge of reckless use of fire, 30 days for harassment and a whopping 15 years for committing a hate crime, the report says.
The latter charge was added as Martinez was found to have conducted criminal mischief against church property due to “what it represents as far as sexual orientation.”
Martinez admitted to police that he burned the banner with lighter fluid and a lighter, after stealing the flag from the church, according to the Des Moines Register.
According to the police, Martinez admitted that he stole a gay pride banner hanging at Ames United Church of Christ, 217 6th St., and burned it early June 11 outside Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club, 111 5th St.
"It was an honour to do that. It's a blessing from the Lord," Martinez said shortly after his arrest, according to the BBC. Martinez claimed that he commited his hate crime because he "opposed homosexuality,” and that “even non-believers will agree” with his action.
Iowa Man Gets 15 Years in Prison Over Burning LGBTQ Flag— Claire La Catholique - PNM - Compte de Secours (@la_catholique) December 19, 2019
Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, was sentenced 15 years for the “hate crime of arson,” a year for “reckless use of explosives or fire,” and 30 days for “harassment” Wednesday.https://t.co/fhvmECqaBy pic.twitter.com/oBVLTStNzf
"I burned down their pride, plain and simple," he told reporters at the time, denying that he would fight the charges in court.
“I wish no harm upon any individual however if you guys are going to bring and forth and address it in such a manner than by all means necessary bring it forth bro, I have God on my side,” he declared at the time. “I don't need weapons, I have the spirit of god on my side Bro.”
The interview was used at the trial as evidence against him.
According to Story County attorney Jessica Reynolds, Martinez is the first person in the county’s history to be convicted of a hate crime.
In 2016, Cameron Mayfield of Omaha was given two years’ probation for burning an LGBT flag he wrestled from a lesbian couple in the street. Mayfield attempted to downplay his crime as a “prank,” while his lawyer suggested that it was a “drunk mistake.” The court ruled that his actions constituted “felony arson as a hate crime.”