Arsonist gets four years; says he’s now a jail preacher

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Noah Rutter, left, was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

A Lower Salem man will spend the next four years in prison for attempting to burn down a house with a man in it.

Noah Rutter, 21, of 6500 Germantown Road, was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

In September, Rutter, along with his brother, were having continued arguments with the victim, who lived at 6466 Germantown Road. The arguments reached a climax on Sept. 26 when Rutter went to the victim’s residence with a bottle filled with flammable liquid stuffed with a rag, commonly referred to as a Molotov cocktail. Rutter lit the device and threw it against the home, burning a hole through one wall and damaging antiques and personal items inside. The victim escaped the home with his pets without injury.

Rutter was originally charged with two second-degree felony counts of aggravated arson. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to only one of the counts as part of a plea deal.

Rutter’s public defender, Shawna Landaker, said before the sentencing that her client feels truly sorry for his actions.

“Noah is incredibly remorseful,” she said. “He has written letters to the court and the victim to apologize.”

Rutter said that since he has been incarcerated, a better path was shown to him through religion.

“Being in jail has changed my life. I don’t know where I’d be if this didn’t happen to me… I’d probably be dead,” he said.

Rutter said that the only trouble he has had in the 188 days he has been confined happened in the first three days of being in jail.

“I stole a bag of chips…and got put in solitary for 22 days,” he said.

Rutter told the court that while being kept alone with only a Bible, he found a new direction for his life.

“I was an atheist before I went in,” he said. “God put me in jail so I’d get to know myself much better.”

Rutter said that since he has been out of solitary confinement, he has taken it upon himself to help change others for the better. He said he started teaching Christianity to other prisoners of the jail.

“I’ve preached to over 40 people there,” he said.

Rutter said he has even received a letter from a prisoner who has been released that said Rutter’s preaching helped to turn his life around for the better.

“I’m impressed,” said Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi, before sentencing.

Kerenyi sentenced Rutter to four years in prison, and he must register as an arsonist in any county he resides in upon his release. Rutter must also pay the victim $2,000 in damages that were sustained in the fire and be under post release control for up to three years after his release.

Rutter was facing up to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

At a glance

•Noah Rutter was sentenced to four years in prison, up to three years post release control and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for attempting to burn down a Lower Salem home.

•Rutter was originally charged with two second-degree felony counts of aggravated arson, but a plea deal with the state on Jan. 23 dropped one of the charges.

•Rutter said he has found religion since his incarceration, and thinks being in jail has already helped him be a better person.

Source: Times research.