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Accused pastor proclaims innocence in arson case

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From page A9 | January 15, 2014 | 7 Comments

FAIRFIELD — A Vacaville pastor arrested on suspicion of firebombing his ex-girlfriend’s house with six people inside said he had nothing to do with the attack.

Meanwhile a hearing scheduled Tuesday to review a restraining order the ex-girlfriend filed against the pastor was delayed until next week.

The three other suspects arrested in the case have falsely accused him of being involved, Mark Lewis, pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Vacaville, told KCRA-TV over the weekend.

“They caught the people who did that,” the pastor said. “They were just trying to point the finger at me. That’s normal. That’s normal. It’ll come out and be cleared up.”

Lewis, 39, was arrested on suspicion of arson of an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy and stalking on Friday, a day after a Molotov cocktail was thrown through his ex-girlfriend’s window. He was released after posting $500,000 bail. Prosecutors had not filed charges against Lewis.

No one was hurt during the firebombing, although police said six people, including three children, were sleeping in the home at the time.

Lewis’ ex-girlfriend, Sarah Nottingham, told KCRA that she and Lewis dated for a year.

“He told me he wasn’t ready for it to be over, basically threatened me that he had nothing to lose and that he would stop at nothing,” Nottingham said.

Lewis has been named as a suspect in four other cases of harassment and vandalism against Nottingham, including a fire in bushes in front of her home, according to police. She had taken out a restraining order against him.

Nottingham was in court briefly Tuesday for a hearing on whether the restraining order against Lewis should be made permanent. Lewis did not attend the hearing, prompting Judge Garry T. Ichikawa to reschedule the hearing for Jan. 22.

Three other people – Anthony Newbolt, 33, and Richerd Wright, 28, both of Sacramento, and Kristen Broyles, 30, of Citrus Heights – have been charged in the case. They pleaded not guilty on Monday to felony charges of arson of an inhabited structure and possession of an incendiary device. All three were ordered back to court for a Jan. 27 probable cause hearing and were in jail with bail ranging between $155,000 and $290,000.

Police said a patrol officer responding to the firebombing early Thursday morning spotted a rental car in the area with the three suspects inside. Newbolt and Broyles allegedly told investigators they were homeless and had been staying at the church.

A subsequent search of Lewis’ home at the church turned up an illegal handgun, suspected methamphetamine and evidence linking Lewis to the firebombing, police said.

Newbolt told KCRA in a jailhouse interview on Monday evening that Lewis had asked for a Molotov cocktail to be thrown at the home. Broyles said Lewis convinced the three suspects that he was being harassed.

Wright declined an interview request, KCRA reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

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  • The MisterJanuary 15, 2014 - 6:39 am

    Sounds like the plot of a TV movie.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rita GoldenJanuary 15, 2014 - 10:53 am

    Sounds to me like Mr. Pastor went to the dark side. No doubt, the truth will come out. You cannot hide behind God and lie. It just doesn't work like that. Did he date this woman before his wife died, or after? Just a thought. Hmmmmm

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 15, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    The "dark side" Rita?Eddie and the Cruisers? Star Wars what?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rita GoldenJanuary 15, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    CD Brooks, don't "play stupid". You know very well what I meant by the "dark side". Enough said.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 15, 2014 - 5:26 pm

    Sorry Rita, but I'm not the st*pid one here.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rita GoldenJanuary 15, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    hahahahaha!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • What I want to know is....January 15, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Did Mr. Lewis have any contact with the military, prior military? Also the last guy in the series of pictures on the right was he prior military....I had some slight contact with this Church and immediately I thought MK-Ultra, and did not attend again......He had some contacts because there was an AF Color Guard there....I am so not joking THEY infiltrate everything now....Protestant, Catholic, Jewish....Will Jesus find any faith on Earth when he returns...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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