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Forum News Service, Published December 21 2013

Man sentenced for arson that displaced students

HUDSON, Wis. – A man who set fire to a Roberts school was sentenced Friday to 30 years total confinement – 20 years of initial confinement and 10 years of extended supervision.

Justin Walter Nelson, 26, of Roberts, started a fire at St. Croix Central Elementary School after breaking into the building in the early morning hours of April 30 in an apparent burglary attempt.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell handed down the sentence after a 90-minute hearing.

“We are saddened that a young man will spend a long time in prison due to such a senseless act of violence, but feel that justice has been served for the students, staff and residents of the St. Croix Central School District,” Roberts Police Chief Daniel Burgess said in a news release.

Nelson pleaded guilty to an arson charge in early September while charges of burglary, criminal damage to property and possession of THC were dismissed.

The fire displaced the elementary students, teachers and district administrators for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year, which they finished at a nearby Girl Scout camp.