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Jury finds Vicksburg arson suspect not guilty
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The main suspect in the old paper mill arson case in Vicksburg will remain a free man, a jury decided Wednesday.
The paper mill was seen as a symbol of Vicksburg, and when sections of it went up in flames in August of last year, residents wondered who would do this.
A suspect was developed, arrested, and charged, but early Wednesday night, he was found not guilty.
21-year-old Kevin Chapman's name surfaced about a week after the crime.
He was out west with his brother when he was caught.
Chapman spoke by phone to Newschannel 3 on Wednesday night, about his four-day trial, and what happened that fateful August night.
"I feel relief," he said. "It's amazing. It hasn't quote sunk in; it's still kind of a shock."
At the time, investigators believed that at least 7 people, ranging in age from 18 to 21 were hanging out and drinking at the mill when the fire broke out.
Chapman told us that he saw someone light two pieces of cardboard on fire with a lighter.
He emphasized that he was nervous during the trial, but said, "I knew I was innocent."
Chapman was eventually arrested in Humboldt County, California after his car broke down.
He was discovered sleeping on the side of the road, but Chapman says he wasn't on the run, and it's a trip he's taken before.
He claimed he had no idea there was a warrant out for his arrest.
Chapman told Newschannel 3 that he believes he was considered the main suspect because others who were there were scared and pointed the finger at him.
He says he celebrated this evening with a steak.
He posted bond last November.
Newschannel 3 placed a call to Vicksburg Police to see where the investigation stands, but we haven't heard back.