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Suspect in Java Monkey fire hasn’t been indicted yet, bond set at $75k

Crime and public safety Decatur Trending

Suspect in Java Monkey fire hasn’t been indicted yet, bond set at $75k

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The patio area of the Java Monkey following a fire in November 2018. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt


This story has been updated. 

Rickey Thomas, the man accused of burning down the Java Monkey coffee shop in Decatur last November, had his bond set at $75,000 during a hearing on Friday, Nov. 22.

During the hearing, Thomas’ defense attorney noted his client hasn’t been officially indicted yet on a charge of first degree arson and has remained in jail since he was arrested in April.

“I’m not sure why the state has not indicted my client,” defense attorney Michael Webb said. “I can only presume that there’s some questions in the case. There is some information I have that would indicate there is some reasonable doubt.”

The prosecutor said that Thomas will be indicted on the charges and that arson investigations are complicated.

“The reason the case hasn’t been indicted at this point is these arson investigations do require considerable investigation,” the prosecutor told Judge Desiree Peagler.

Rickey Thomas. Photo provided by the Decatur Police Department.

The prosecutor said Thomas made threatening phone calls to employees of the Java Monkey on the day of the fire. He said there’s also surveillance footage showing an individual approaching the back of the building and that Java Monkey owner Lora De Roover identified the individual as Thomas. The prosecutor noted Thomas has a criminal history that includes burglary and shoplifting. When the incident happened, Thomas was in the DeKalb County Mental Health Court, a diversion program for defendants with mental illness.

Webb said his client’s criminal history does not indicate Thomas is likely to commit another arson.

“There’s a big leap from burglary and shoplifting to arson,” Webb said.

Judge Peagler set Thomas’ bond at $75,000 and said if he makes bond he can’t visit the scene of the crime or contact witnesses.

In July, the owner of Java Monkey confirmed that the business — a Decatur staple for over 25 years prior to its destruction — would not reopen.

The name Java Monkey currently lives on with Java Monkey Speaks — currently called Java Speaks — a weekly poetry open mic event that took place at Java Monkey for years.

The Java Monkey before its destruction in a November 2018 fire. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

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