COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. (WIBW) -- It's a case that has shocked many throughout the Flint Hills region- a Council Grove man purposefully set on fire. On Friday, the suspect returned to court.
Isaac Wilson, 23, is charged with a crime that has left a 54-year-old man recovering from severe burns to his hands and lower body.
Wilson is accused of attacking Sterling Law at Law’s Council Grove home on Orchard Street last month.
Officials say Law was sitting inside when Wilson came in, drenched him in rubbing alcohol and ignited him with a cigarette lighter.
Wilson is charged with Aggravated Battery and Aggravated Burglary in connection with the incident.
"With Mr. Law, the allegations are that essentially there was alcohol placed on Mr. Law and Mr. Law was lit on fire. That lead to the Aggravated Battery charge in that case. The Aggravated Burglary is that Mr. Wilson entered into the residence with the intent to commit a felony, the Aggravated Battery," said Morris County Attorney Laura Allen.
Issac Wilson waived his preliminary hearing Friday, opting not to have any evidence presented in court.
"After discussion with my client, he decided to waive it based on trial strategy," said Wilson's attorney Don Kruger.
A spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas told WIBW Friday that the case is still being reviewed at the federal level to determine whether or not it is a hate crime. Wilson is white and Sterling Law is black.
But when 13 News first broke the story, Law's brother said that Sterling is an easy target not because he's black, but because of his mental illness.
Council Grove is primarily white, but Sterling's friends say the crime wasn't racially motivated, instead, they say the suspect was taking advantage of Sterling's mental disability. His brother says Sterling has been a "simple man" since the age of five, when some "mean" neighborhood kids bashed his head in with a baseball bat.
Morris County Attorney Laura Allen said that Sterling Law was not present at Friday's hearing but that he met with her beforehand.
She explained that Isaac Wilson also has other charges pending against him, including a stalking case and another Aggravated Battery charge. Wilson is accused of beating another man, Andrew Maiden, with a metal pipe in the same early morning hours that Sterling Law was set on fire.
"That’s a stalking case involving his child’s mother. Basically there was a protection from stalking order that the judge had issued and he had contact with the subject of that stalking order during a time frame in which he was arrested in other cases- the other two pending cases- and so based on his continued contact, we filed the stalking case. In the case involving Mr. Maiden, there’s allegations that he had physical contact with him with a deadly weapon, that being a metal pipe and that he also threatened him," she said.
When asked what kind of time behind bars Isaac Wilson could be facing, Laura Allen responded: "He’s looking anywhere from several years to just several months. It depends on what he could be convicted of and his criminal history which he does have a minimal criminal history."
She says that Isaac Wilson is originally from Council Grove and was staying in Council Grove at the time of the incidents but he was not officially living there. She says he typically lives with his mother out of state.
Wilson remains in custody. His arraignment has been set for December 6th and Wilson's attorney says he plans to enter pleas of "not guilty" to all of his charges at that time.
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