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Activist faces two charges of animal killing

Posted at 7:59 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 07:45:26-05

The civil rights activist accused of setting his own home on fire is headed to trial. However, now with two additional charges.

Nikki Joly was bound over to circuit court on Tuesday for first-degree arson after allegedly setting his Pringle Avenue home on fire on Aug. 10, 2017. Additionally, Joly is charged with two counts of animal killing after Joly's two German Shepherds died in the fire.

Testimony from Tuesday's preliminary exam included evidence that an accelerant was found in the rubble and on the clothes Joly wore that day. However, a neighbor who took the stand said he would not have believed Joly was capable of setting his house on fire or killing his dogs. Even after Joly asked him to hold onto a gas can from his home.

"And asked me to hold onto it, didn't bat an eye and didn't think twice about it," said Michael Church, Joly's neighbor on Pringle Avenue. 

Joly's lawyer asked Church, "You never suspected him?"
"No, sir," Church said.

Joly faces up to life in prison if convicted of arson. He could get four years for each animal-killing charge.

Joly is a well-known LGBTQ rights activist in the Jackson area. The Jackson Citizen Patriot named him its 2018 Citizen of the Year for his work to get the city to pass a non-discrimination ordinance and for organizing the first Jackson Pride Parade and Festival in 2017.