Rightsell and two 17-year-olds were arrested in February and charged with setting fire to the Burket Alternative School, CR 700 West. Burket Fire Department’s quick response is credited for allowing minimal damage to the facility.
According to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department report, the fire was started near a garage attached to the gym of the school.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department deputies were called to the scene due to the suspicious nature of the fire. Officers were able to identify one of the juveniles from a surveillance camera. That 17-year-old was identified as a Tippecanoe Valley High School student from Mentone who implicated Rightsell.
Rightsell was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant out of Marshall County. When interviewed, he implicated the TVHS student and another 17-year-old. All three were charged with felony arson.
Judge Duane Huffer referred to Rightsell’s actions as “very dangerous” and “thoughtless.” Defense attorney John Landis asked for a short imprisonment time because, since the incident, Rightsell has become a father and is caring for his 2-month-old son.
On July 24, Rightsell pleaded guilty to a class D felony charge. Prior to sentencing this morning Rightsell told the court, “I know I messed up, I just want to take care of my son.”
Rightsell was also ordered to pay $3,789.19 to Tippecanoe Valley Schools for restitution for damages.