DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa man was sentenced to about 16 years in prison after he set fire to a church LGBTQ flag in June.
Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames last month was found guilty of a hate crime – a class "D" felony – third-degree harassment and reckless use of fire. Police said he stole a pride banner hanging at Ames United Church of Christ and burned it early June 11 outside the Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club.
Martinez admitted to police that he lit the banner on fire using lighter fluid and a lighter after stealing it from the church, according to court documents.
Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said 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."
A jury convicted Martinez in November.
Martinez was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years for the hate crime of arson, as well as a year for the reckless use of explosives or fire, and 30 days for harassment.
Reynolds said Martinez is the first person to be convicted of a hate crime in the county.
“The hard reality is there are people who target individuals and commit crimes against individuals because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and when that happens it’s so important that as a society we stand up and people have severe consequences for those actions,” Reynolds said.
Prior to his final sentencing Martinez gave an impact statement and indicated that he would never stop and was “living by God’s laws,” Reynolds said.
Contributing: David Mullen, Ames (Iowa) Tribune, The Associated Press
Follow Andrea Sahouri on Twitter at @andreamsahouri.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Hate crime: Iowa man sentenced to prison for burning LGBTQ flag