Brown sentenced to 20 years for setting fire to occupied home

JEFFERSON COUNTY — A 50-year-old Centralia man was sentenced Thursday in Jefferson County court to 20-years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after he earlier pleaded guilty but mentally ill to setting fire to a home while his family was inside.

John Brown will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence but according to Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun, the Department of Corrections could choose to house him for mental treatment during his prison sentence.

According to police reports, in September 2016, Brown poured gasoline around the inside of his girlfriend’s residence on Dix/Irvington Road, setting the home ablaze with his family inside, then fleeing the home on foot.

The family was able to escape the fire without injury, but the Dix-Irvington Road home and its contents were destroyed. Brown was ultimately arrested at a Centralia residence after a day-long manhunt for him throughout the area.

Two other pending cases against Brown were dismissed per the plea agreement. In the first of those cases, Brown was charged with felony aggravated domestic battery and felony theft. A warrant in that case led to a police chase in Jefferson County, just hours after the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office described him as “armed and dangerous.”