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`I LOVED THAT SCHOOL,’ SAYS PRINCIPAL IN ARSON CASE

SHARE `I LOVED THAT SCHOOL,’ SAYS PRINCIPAL IN ARSON CASE

A white principal who condemned mixed-race dating tearfully testified that he had nothing to do with the blaze that burned down his high school.

"I loved that school, I still love that school," Hulond Humphries, the day's star witness, testified Thursday. "I would not be a part of destroying something I worked so hard for."Humphries took the stand at the federal arson trial of Christopher Lynn Johnson, whose lawyer has tried to shift the blame onto the principal.

Johnson, 25, a black activist's son, is accused of setting the fire in anger over Humphries' threat to cancel the high school prom if mixed-race couples attended. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines if convicted.

The defense rested Thursday, and jurors were expected to get the case Friday after closing arguments.

Johnson did not testify and defense lawyer Ron Wise would not say why. One defense witness, a police officer, testified that Hum-phries seemed unusually calm as the school burned on Aug. 6, 1994.

Prosecutors have said Humphries was a suspect until evidence surfaced against Johnson.

Johnson's ex-wife, whom he was married to at the time of the fire, testified that she found a bag soaked with lighter fluid at their home the night before the blaze and that it was gone the next night.

But Wise pointed to two statements in which Humphries seemed to tell FBI agents he started the fire.

In the statements, prosecutors said, Humphries used a phrase similar to "when I started the fire."

Humphries was describing the scene when he first walked up and saw the blaze, according to prosecutors, and the agents said they dismissed his remarks as slips of the tongue.