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Forum News Service, Published May 13 2013

Wisconsin school arson suspect likely to use insanity plea

HUDSON, Wis. - The man accused of setting fire to a Roberts school will likely enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea, his attorney said Monday.

During a brief hearing Monday afternoon, St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell found probable cause to believe that a felony was committed and probable cause that Justin Walter Nelson, 24, Roberts, committed the crime and bound him over for trial.

Investigator Brent Standaert, the lone witness at the hearing, testified that Nelson admitted during an interview that he was in St. Croix Central Elementary School on April 30 and stole cameras from classrooms.

Standaert also said that during a call recorded on a jail phone, Nelson said he had probably set fires in the school to prevent police from discovering the thefts. The investigator agreed that Nelson hadn’t directly said he started the fires but that was implied.

Attorney Daniel Chapman said he expects his client to offer an insanity plea at some point.

Arraignment is set for May 30.

There was enough damage to the school to make it unusable for the rest of the school year.