arsonA defense attorney threw his client under the bus, partway at least, at the start of an insurance fraud arson trial at the Mohave County Courthouse. It was Nathan Benedict’s attempt to explain why witnesses would provide incriminating testimony in the case against Michael Mckenzie, 53.

Benedict said Mckenzie is guilty of being a “jerk” but should not be convicted of fraud and two counts each of arson and theft. Benedict said Mckenzie’s adversaries have a motive to tell the jury that he asked them to burn down his mobile home in the 4500 block of N. Eden Road in Golden Valley.

Benedict told jurors that Mckenzie is “unpleasant” but that the state has no physical or forensic evidence that proves he twice burned his mobile home.

Prosecutor Rod Albright said Mckenzie set fire to the property in late 2011 and in early 2012 to collect insurance coverage money. “Light fires, get the money,” Albright said of Mckenzie’s motive.

Albright said Mckenzie was paid abour$25,000 for the first fire and another $3,000 for the second fire.