On Thursday, March 14, Morrison County District Court Judge Conrad I. Freeberg sentenced Randy Reed to 60 months in prison following his conviction for arson in the first degree. Reed, 63 of Pierz, was found guilty after a four-day trial in October 2012.
The case stems from Reed setting fire to a house he owned in Pierz Aug. 24, 2010. At trial, the state showed that Reed was behind on his $127,000 mortgage and other bills and that Reed had the residence insured for $190,000. The state also had recorded statements by Reed admitting that his tools, most of his possessions, photographs, a pool table and air hockey table had been removed from the house in the months before the fire. Reed admitted that he was the last person to leave the house.
The Pierz Fire Department, Morrison County Sheriff’s Department, State Fire Marshall and a fire investigator hired by the state all testified that the home had four separate ignition points in the basement. The firemen and the investigators all noted the odor of gasoline in the basement after the fire was extinguished. Scientific tests confirmed the presence of gasoline. During the trial, Reed claimed he had left a partially filled five-gallon gas can on the steps and a spark from the dryer caused the fire.
Assistant County Attorneys Todd Kosovich and Amber Kusler represented the state during the long case. County Attorney Brian Middendorf said a number of things contributed to the successful trial: “The Pierz firemen quickly put out the fire, preserved the scene and quickly decided to call the fire marshal. The deputies also arrived quickly and interviewed the suspect at the scene – essentially locking in Reed’s story to be used at trial.”
The defendant is remaining free pending an appeal.