EAST TEXAS (KLTV) – On Monday, a judge handed down multiple life sentences to Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister. Some say that was a bit harsh.
In a comment on KLTV.com, Jeffrey wrote, "Yes, the boys made a mistake, but they got way too much punishment. God forgives, so should religious people."
In response, John T. Ford posted "The church members have expressed their forgiveness. And they were not sentenced by 'religious type people.' They were sentenced by the state of Texas."
"Ms. Tell it like it is" wrote, "It wasn't right. But to give them life… who did they kill?"
The issue is pitting East Texas justice against the mercy of East Texans.
After sentencing, Jason Bourque's grandmother said, "No mercy in it at all. It's just like we're going to do this because you did that, and to me that's not forgiveness."
Kimberly, Bourque's mother, called the sentence very harsh.
The State says it could have been much worse. "Had we tried them...the people sitting on their parole boards, probably won't even be born for another 20, or 30 years maybe a 100 years," said Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in any of the fires, which Bingham says he factored into his sentence recommendation. He also says that's why the plea agreement allows the two young men to serve out pretty much all of their sentences at the same time. Meaning Bourque and McAllister will be eligible for parole during their lifetimes.
Bourque's attorney Greg Waldron agreed, it was the best outcome for both men, but says they would have preferred a lighter sentence.
"This was not a decision that was made in haste… we had churches burning here," says Waldron.
Leon Wallace, Pastor of Faith Church in Athens says "We're in the business of trying to get souls to heaven. Everyone has made mistakes. These two young men's mistakes are no different, it just effected us."
"We live in a land of laws," says Pastor John Green of Lake Athens Baptist Church. "God loves them, and we forgive them. But, that cannot erase the needed legal procedures.
Waldron says he's working to prepare a similar plea agreement with authorities in Henderson and Van Zandt Counties, for Jason Bourque.