SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Suspected arsonist Jason Bourque's family said they hope the guilty plea will prevent him from having to spend the rest of his life in prison. Brenda steel and Kim Bourque say the last year has been a roller coaster of emotions.
"It's been emotionally draining and overwhelming. But, it's also been a time of drawing close to God," Steel said.
Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister have been charged with 5 counts of arson and 3 counts of attempted arson in Smith County and now face a life in prison sentence.
"It's been pretty devastating, because they want to give him life. We think that is a very harsh punishment. He will get on parole, but still, has to do his time on paper the rest of his life," Steel said.
Bourque and McAllister will plead guilty of the crime next week. Now, Bourque's family asks for compassion and forgiveness from the East Texas community.
"God spoke to me and said if people would approach this with forgiveness and compassion, then it will draw people to the church," Steel said.
Bourque's family described him as smart and loyal while showing off his debate medals and Eagle Scouts collage. They said he's a changed man after spending nearly a year in the Smith County Jail.
"He has drawn so close to God, it's been amazing...He has read 110 books. Spiritual books," Steel said.
As this family leans on their faith, there are still many unanswered questions, like why these fires were set.
"It will eventually all come out," Steel said.
The women say Bourque and McAllister have been separated at the jail and do not see each other except in passing.