Man gets 25 years in Emmett church arsons

A second suspect, now serving a life sentence for murder, has not yet been prosecuted.

kterhune@idahostatesman.comDecember 13, 2013 

William Charles Dorahush Jr., 45, will have to serve at least five years of his 25-year sentence before he is eligible for parole, Gem County Prosecutor Richard Linville said Thursday.

The April arsons in Emmett shocked the rural Idaho community and ousted congregations from the damaged shells of First Baptist Church and Community Bible Church.

Police have said the motive for the arsons was burglary. But burglary charges against Dorahush were dismissed when he pleaded guilty to first-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

Community Bible’s pastor estimated the damage to its building at $1 million, Linville said. Members of First Baptist are still assessing the damage, but guess that the cost will near $1 million as well.

But Linville said the true costs cut deeper than replacing a few pews.

“The burning of a church is particularly damaging to the community,” he said. “One of them was 100 years old, a historic structure in our community and right in the heart of our community, both figuratively and literally.”

Linville described Dorahush, who was convicted of two arsons in 1992, as a career criminal.

“He had a substantial criminal record,” Linville said. “In fact, he had rarely not been in prison in his adult life.”

The prosecutor said he was pleased with the judge’s imposition of the maximum possible sentence.

“You’re dealing with wholly innocent victims, and lots of them,” Linville said. “I think that this sentence was a good one for this crime.”

Although Dorahush admitted setting the fire in First Baptist early that April morning, Linville said it was another man, 41-year-old Bradley Ryan Thomasson, who burned the Community Bible Church and took a larger role in the crimes.

“We think that Thomasson is probably more culpable than Dorahush,” he said.

Thomasson was charged in connection with the arson case as well, but prosecution will not begin until 2014, Linville said. That case is currently sealed.

Thomasson was on parole for the 1989 murder of his adoptive parents when the arsons occurred. After his arrest, his parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison.

Linville hopes to tack an arson conviction to Thomasson’s lengthy rap sheet.

He’ll have plenty of support in Emmett. Linville praised the pastors’ and community members’ willingness to continue cooperating in the case.

“Every time we asked for information, or photographs, or assistance, they were ready to help us,” he said. “It really was a great help in obtaining a successful prosecution.”

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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