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18-year sentence handed to man who beat grandfather, set house on fire



BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — A Monroe County man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by seven years on probation after pleading guilty but mentally ill to aggravated battery and arson charges.

Justin Hollingsworth, 29, of Bloomington, was originally charged with attempted murder, a Level 1 felony, aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony, and arson, a Level 4 felony.

The attempted murder charge was dismissed after Hollingsworth pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the lesser two counts.

According to court documents, on March 22, 2022, police were called to reports of a house fire on South Ketcham Road. When first responders arrived, they found a 72-year-old man lying in the front yard with severe head and face trauma.

Police reported that the man told officers that Hollingsworth beat him with an object in the house and then set the home on fire. The grandfather was still inside when the house went into flames.

Police later found Hollingsworth, who, in an interview, claimed that someone had broken into the home and attacked them. Hollingsworth said he chased them into the woods, but couldn’t catch them. However, the grandfather had a much different account as to what had happened.

Court documents say that Hollingsworth was living at the grandfather’s home at the time and the the two were in an argument on the night of the fire,

“I’m going to beat you to death with this stick,” the man told police Hollingsworth threatened before beating him at least 10 times in the head. After which, court documents say Hollingsworth emptied a two-gallon gas throughout the home and ignited the gas.

The man tried to put out the fire with the hose but quickly changed his mind and ran from the house.