Adolfo Martinez, of Ames, Iowa, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for ripping down a church’s pride flag and burning it outside of a strip club.
A jury in Story County found Martinez guilty last month of a hate crime, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire (arson) as a habitual offender.
The Des Moines Register reports Iowa sentencing guidelines called for a maximum of five years in prison for the hate crime and arson charge and a maximum of a year and month for the other two charges.
Martinez’s status as a habitual offender allowed for him to be sentenced to a longer prison term.
According to Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds, this case was the first incidence of a hate crime going before a jury in Story County.
On June 11, Martinez was reportedly “making threats and acting out” at a gentlemen’s club named Dangerous Curves located at 111 Fifth Street. The police were called but Martinez had been ejected from the premises by the time they arrived.
Martinez reportedly came back that night and told a bar employee he was going to burn the bar down. He added that he planned on burning a Pride flag hanging in front of the Ames United Church of Christ nearby.
He returned with the flag in hand, poured lighter fluid on it and set the banner on fire in front of the nightclub according to the police report.
He was arrested later that day.
Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle told the Ames Tribune that the 30-year-old confessed to tearing the flag down and burning it while in custody.
In a stunning interview with local TV station KCCI, Martinez admitted he was guilty of the charges and acknowledged his actions stemmed from his hostility to the LGBTQ community. He added that it was “an honor and a blessing” to stand up for “the word of the Lord.”
“I’m guilty, I’m guilty as charged,” he proudly announced. “I’ll say it on camera as well. Live! Let it be known. I’m guilty as charged plain and simple. Knowingly, willingly, and intentionally did I do that. Yep. It’s my honor.”
“It is a judgment and it is written to execute vengeance on the heathen and punishments upon the people… and it is my honor to do so. That was an honor to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord to be able to stand for his word firmly against all odds, plain and simple.”
The TV interview was played at his trial as evidence.