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18 years later, man sentenced for arson
by Jebb Johnston
Apr 11, 2014 | 72 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny Keith Wilbanks was in no hurry to atone for setting fire to a Corinth home.

Eighteen years later, he is headed to jail for a crime committed on Wick Street in Corinth in April 1996.

“It’s a case where they had absconded and when they were back in town, the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department was able to nab them,” said Paul Howell, investigator with the district attorney’s office.

Wilbanks was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of arson of a dwelling in January 2003 along with a co-defendant, Harold E. Childers.

On March 19, Wilbanks pleaded guilty before Circuit Judge Paul Funderburk, who imposed a 20-year sentence with five years suspended, leaving 15 years to serve in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, followed by five years of probation. Funderburk ordered Wilbanks to pay restitution of $30,000 to Gulf Guaranty Insurance Company jointly with the co-defendant.

According to the newspaper’s account of the fire at the time, police said burglars tried unsuccessfully to cover their tracks by setting fire to the crime scene — a first-floor apartment at 1008 Wick Street. Witnesses saw two men leave the scene carrying power tools. Officers found a torch propped against an interior wall with a visible ignition burn.

During his recent appearance in court, Wilbanks also pleaded guilty to attempting to obtain a prescription by fraud for Oxycontin. Funderburk imposed a concurrent five-year sentence on that charge.
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