Man sentenced to jail for backyard church

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Resilient as ever, Myron Holter is sentenced to 90 days in jail starting October 1 if he doesn’t remove the structures of his personal backyard church that he built.

The structures that make up the church on Southwest 33rd Street have become the center of conflict between neighbors and the city.

This morning in court he said he’d “fight to the death” to keep his church standing.

“If I have to go to jail, I have to go to jail,” he told reporters later. “If anybody wants to come and help make me code compliant, you know where I live. Bring a hammer.”

After the city charged Holter with violating six city ordinances last year he has fought to keep the structures code compliant. After a hearing in district court in March he had to bring them to complete compliance. But the city says Holter made little effort.

“Code enforcement actually sent him a notice of all the violations and what corrective actions need to be taken.” Says Charles Kitt, Topeka’s Chief Prosecuting Attorney. So the city has informed him of what needs to be done and it just hasn’t happened.”

Myron says he has been a victim of harassment and he has made efforts to appease both his neighbors and the city.

Four of Holter’s neighbors attended Myron’s hearing this morning. They are just ready for the structures to come down.

“That’s all we ever asked,” says Michael Hayes, a neighbor of Holter’s. “We didn’t want any jail time. We just wanted the buildings to be proper.”

Shawnee County District Judge Bill Ossmann told Holter that he could avoid jail time by requesting a sentence modification if he was to remove all of the structures that weren’t in compliance.

Myron will have to pay up to $600 in fines. He also told the court that he’d be happy to go to jail and tell “prisoners about Jesus.”

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