HomeNewsMan accused of setting fire to historic Harrisburg church denied bond

Man accused of setting fire to historic Harrisburg church denied bond

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An Augusta man accused of arson in the burning of a Harrisburg house and historic church was denied bond Wednesday, May 4.

Lawrence Brannen, 39, has been held in jail since his arrest in March 2020. He has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to two counts of arson.

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Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Kyle Davis told Judge John Flythe that a March 18, 2020 fire, first started inside 1733 Ellis St., spread next door to the Hosannah Missionary Baptist Church.

The church was built in 1829.

Brannen used to live at 1733 Ellis St., Davis said. Brannen said he was smoking for pleasure inside the Ellis Street house when the fire started, and he left the house.

Brannen denied starting another fire in Harrisburg on Crawford Avenue, although he said he had burned leaves the night before in the yard of the house, Davis said. A resident in the neighborhood reported Brannen’s nickname was “Pyromantic,” Davis said.

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Defense attorney Patrick Berkshire asked for bond for Brannen, who has been in jail for over two years now. There is nothing in Brannen’s history to indicate he presents a danger of starting fires, Berkshire said.

The judge denied bond, but Flythe said he would move Brannen’s case to the active trial calendar.

Sandy Hodson is a staff reporter covering courts for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected]. 

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