One enters guilty plea in Albert Lea arson case; one fails to appear at Wednesday hearing

Suspected Arson in Albert Lea

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(ABC 6 News) – One suspect in an Albert Lea arson case entered a guilty plea in Freeborn County Court Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Hailey Marie Merrill, 28, was charged with aiding and abetting 1st-degree arson in connection to a suspicious fire on Garfield Avenue Oct. 6.

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According to court documents, Merrill filed a petition to plead guilty to an amended 2nd-degree arson charge, in exchange for 5 years’ probation, no contact with the other three suspects in the case during her probation, an agreement to testify in any trials about the case, and 200 hours of community service–50 of which must be served with Albert Lea Fire and Rescue.

If Merrill’s plea agreement is accepted, she will also pay an unspecified amount of restitution, according to court documents.

Merrill and Kolton Lee Wright, another suspect in the case, appeared for a motion hearing Wednesday.

RELATED: One arrested in connection with suspicious fire – ABC 6 News –

Kaden James Ashenfelter, a third suspect, failed to appear for the hearing, according to Minnesota court records.

The three adults’ counsel filed a motion to try the three of them, as well as a juvenile suspect not named in public documents, simultaneously to avoid calling each defendant and witness to testify four times.

The motion was heard in Freeborn County Court Wednesday, Nov. 29. Ashenfelter did not appear for the hearing, according to Minnesota court records.

The results of the motion hearing were not immediately available online.

Merrill’s plea hearing is scheduled for Dec. 15, as is an evidence hearing for Wright.

Ashenfelter is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 14.