JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Mid-Missouri jury found a local business owner guilty of burning down his own store.
Kurt Steidley was convicted of second-degree arson for the Jan. 2011 fire at Everhart's Sporting Goods in Jefferson City. The store had already closed at 2436 Missouri Boulevard about a week before the blaze.
Throughout the trial, several witnesses were called to testify, including Steidley's wife and a forensic auditor.
During closing arguments, the prosecution emphasized the testimonies of fire and gas officials who stated their beliefs that arson was to blame for the blaze.
The prosecution also argued that Steidley's story changed from his initial conversations with fire officials to what he said in court.
The defense told the court that Steidley is a financially-stable businessman and had no financial reason to start the fire. Steidley's attorney said investigators did not have an exact cause for the fire, so it is impossible to label the fire as arson.
Jurors began to deliberate around 2:40 p.m. and reached the guilty verdict less than four hours later.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.