4th Albert Lea arson suspect charged as adult

(ABC 6 News) – An Albert Lea teenager faces charges in adult criminal court following an October arson case.

RELATED: Friday night fire in Albert Lea leaves more than $13k in damage; fire under investigation – ABC 6 News – kaaltv.com

Zachary Michael Hamilton, 17, was originally charged with aiding and abetting 1st-degree arson in juvenile court, according to the Freeborn County attorney’s office.

Under MN Statute 260B.125, Hamilton was newly charged in adult court March 13, as he was 16-17 years old at the time of the alleged offense and an aiding/abetting arson conviction should result in prison time, according to the state’s sentencing guidelines.

According to court documents, Hamilton is accused of either using lighting fluid and flammable materials to set fire to a garage on Garfield Avenue, or cooperating as another suspect did so.

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Hamilton is scheduled to appear in Freeborn County Court March 27.

Kolton Wright (top), Hailey Merrill (lower left) and Kaden Ashenfelter (lower right) / Freeborn County Jail

Hailey Marie Merrill and Kolton Lee Wright each entered guilty pleas earlier this year in connection with the same incident.

Merril pleaded guilty to an amended charge of 2nd-degree arson, while Wright pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting 1st-degree arson.

A fourth suspect, Kaden James Ashenfelter, 23, faces a charge of aiding and abetting 1st-degree arson.

Ashenfelter is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing July 25, followed by a jury trial beginning Aug. 19.