Judge sentences man for aggravated arson in Pittsburg

mugshot of Richard Dickerson

Mugshot from Crawford County Jail, February 2019

PITTSBURG, Kan. – A judge sentences Richard Lee Dickerson to nearly 7 years (82 months) in prison and 3 years of supervised probation for aggravated arson. Dickerson pleaded no contest after going on trial for setting fire to a homeless woman’s blanket in February 2019.

A Pittsburg Police Officer responded to The Home Place, 616 N. Broadway, about an incident that happened in the alcove area of the business.

According to the initial investigation, authorities say a homeless person, identified as Chrystal Thompson, had been sleeping in the alcove area in front of the store. Police say Thompson approached the owner of the store and indicated she thought a hand warming device she was using to stay warm had accidentally caught her blankets on fire during the previous night and left a burn mark on the tile flooring.

The owner of the store reported to police that after reviewing surveillance video, they saw a male approach Thompson while she was sleeping. They say he appeared to intentionally set her blankets on fire and walk away from the area. Police say the blankets burned for a moment before going out on their own.

Officers spoke with Thompson, who assisted in identifying the person seen in the surveillance video.

Police arrested Dickerson and requested charges of attempted murder, aggravated arson and criminal damage to property. However, the Prosecutor’s Office filed a charge of only aggravated arson.

Dickerson pleaded no contest on day two of his trial in October.