SHAMOKIN — An accused arsonist from Shamokin was in court Friday to enter a plea for three fires that terrified some residents of his hometown.
James Neidlinger pleaded no contest to three counts of arson for setting fires in Shamokin. The no contest plea means Neidlinger does not admit setting these fires in Shamokin more than a year ago, but he will be sentenced as if he had pleaded guilty.
Many people in Shamokin remember those fires clearly. Dale Koch owns one of the buildings across from a vacant building that burned here on Shamokin street.
“It was pretty hectic because I thought it was my building when I came around the corner by the fire station,” Koch said.
“It was horrifying to know that there was someone out there burning abandoned buildings down in Shamokin,” Julie Macnair said.
Macnair lives and works across the street from where Neidlinger is accused of setting that fire. She is happy to hear Neidlinger could be sentenced to years behind bars.
“Relieved. Yes, relieved, big relief,” Macnair said.
James Neidlinger faces a maximum of 50 years behind bars. The people we spoke to in Shamokin say they hope he serves every minute of that sentence.
“He should get what he deserves, you know? That’s not right. He could have killed somebody. A lot of things could have happened, a lot of repercussions,” Michael Hughes said.
“Hopefully he does spend the 50 years in jail,” Koch said.
“I hope that justice is served and he gets what he deserves after putting everybody through what he did,” Macnair said.
James Neidlinger is scheduled to be sentenced sometime in April for the three arsons.