Sometimes in life you are fresh out of options before you even know it. That's what 19-year-old East Texan Randy Keith Hester found out recently when his cunning plan to help pay his attorney went dreadfully awry.
Last fall, Hester was accused of having a consensual sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Faced with two felony sex crime charges, Hester acquired the services of Lufkin attorney John Henry Tatum, and to help pay Tatum's fee, Hester and his grandfather deeded the Zavalla, Texas home they shared to Tatum, who allowed the two men to remain living there.
But unbeknownst to the lawyer, Hester and his grandfather moved to the town of Hudson, leaving the Zavalla home unoccupied, as per Hester's ingenious plan. One of Hester's friends contacted Zavalla police when Hester allegedly called him to tell him that he had better go get his belongings out, as Hester planned to torch the place. When the friend and the cops arrived, they found that Hester had made good on his fiendish design -- sort of. The place had been set on fire, but all that ensued was minor smoke damage in the bathroom.
"Even though it's arson, it didn't do much damage to the house," Tatum tells Hair Balls. "If the house had burned it would be a lot more serious case."
You might be thinking that Hester tried to torch the place he once owned to avenge himself at the attorney who pried it away from him and his grandpa. You'd apparently be wrong.
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An arson investigator contacted Tatum and told him that Hester allegedly did it to collect on the insurance.
"He still had a policy on it in his name, I guess," Tatum tells Hair Balls. Hester just failed to grasp that to collect on said policy, he would have to actually own the property in question. (Imagine a society where just anybody could go around taking out fire insurance on whatever buildings they wanted to. Hair Balls could just take out a policy on the Galleria and torch it and retire...)
Tatum didn't rule out the possibility of defending Hester on his brand-new felony arson charge. "Well, I probably won't," he said. "But on the other hand, it looks like he wasn't coming after me. If he had gotten some money from the insurance policy, maybe he was planning to pay me more of the money he owed me."
But you just can't deed your house and burn it too.