Court of Appeals rules that Randy Reed arson conviction stands

The Minnesota State Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Pierz man for arson. A Morrison County jury returned a verdict of guilty against Randy Reed on a charge of arson in the first degree Oct. 24, 2013. Reed, 63, of Pierz, was found guilty after a four-day trial before Judge Conrad Freeberg in Little Falls. Assistant County Attorneys Todd Kosovich and Amber Kusler represented the state at trial and during the subsequent appellate proceedings. Reed was sentenced to 60 months in prison Jan. 9, 2013, with the sentence being stayed pending appeal. Reed was accused of trying to burn down his own residence using gasoline in order to collect the insurance money on the house.

The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in an order released Monday, saying in the concluding paragraph: “The reasonable inferences from these proved circumstances are that (1) the fire was set intentionally and not the result of an accident; (2) Reed had the means, opportunity and intention to start the fire; (3) Reed acted suspiciously before the fire; and (4) Reed had a financial motive for starting the fire and making it appear unintentional. Even though Reed provided an explanation for various circumstantial evidence, we consider the totality of the evidence demonstrating motive, means and opportunity to determine whether it sustains the conviction. Here, viewing the evidence as a whole, the circumstances proved form a complete chain that leads so directly to Reed’s guilt as to exclude beyond a reasonable doubt any other reasonable inference. The evidence presented was sufficient for the jury to find that Reed intentionally started the fire to destroy his home and supports his conviction for first-degree arson.”

The defense has 30 days to file a petition for review with the Minnesota State Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has discretion whether to hear the case or not.

Morrison County Attorney, Brian Middendorf, said, “I believe the Court of Appeals made the proper decision. There is simply no reason to overturn the jury’s verdict. Mr. Reed received a fair trial. The 12 members of the jury heard all of the evidence put forth by the state and the defense, and their unanimous verdict was that Mr. Reed was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”