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Published February 27 2012

Fargo man who set fire in neighbor's garage: 'I don't remember, your honor'

FARGO – A Fargo man who pleaded guilty Monday to breaking into a neighbor’s apartment garage and setting its contents on fire last July told the judge he doesn’t remember the incident.

Jade Dean Hemmes, 42, said he was having a bad reaction to medication during the July 25 incident at 4102 18th Ave. S.

Hemmes pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court to felony burglary and criminal mischief and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

Judge Frank Racek sentenced Hemmes to 210 days credit for time served and one year of probation.

Hemmes also must obtain a medical evaluation and take medication as prescribed. He said he’s been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and depression and also suffers from back problems.

On the night of the incident, he mixed pain medication with his other medication, he said.

“I don’t remember, your honor,” he said of the incident before apologizing for his behavior. His attorney, Daniel Gast, said Hemmes is easy to work with as long as his medications are well-balanced.

The couple whose belongings were burned told The Forum at the time that 20 minutes before the fire, Hemmes tried to barge into their apartment but was stopped at the door.

Damage from the fire exceeded $2,000, but there hadn’t been a claim for restitution, Assistant State’s Attorney Tristan Van de Streek said. Racek ordered the claim period left open for 30 days.

After the fire, the couple questioned how Hemmes, whose criminal history includes felony convictions for aggravated assault and illegal possession of an explosive, was able to rent an apartment from Goldmark Property Management.

A company executive said Hemmes lied on his rental application and would have been denied had the company known about his criminal past.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528