Woman gets house arrest in northern Indiana barn fires case

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A woman who pleaded guilty to arson for allegedly helping her boyfriend set fire to several barns in northern Indiana was sentenced Tuesday to eight years on house arrest.

An Elkhart County judge gave Sherry Thomas a 10-year sentence, with eight years to be served under house arrest and two years suspended to probation. The 33-year-old Nappanee resident had pleaded guilty in December to one count of arson.

Thomas’ plea came after Superior Court Judge Stephen Bowers rejected an earlier plea deal for Thomas in late November.

Bowers said Tuesday that he likely would have sentenced Thomas to at least a handful of years in prison if not for the terms of her plea agreement.

Thomas was originally charged with eight counts of arson, but under her plea agreement prosecutors dismissed all but one offense she had faced and stipulated that any time served would be in community corrections and not prison, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Thomas’ boyfriend, Joseph Hershberger, was sentenced in November to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to torching eight barns in 2021 in Elkhart County.

Both Thomas and Hershberger still face arson charges out of Marshall and Kosciusko counties for fires allegedly set there in 2021.

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