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Woman sentenced on charges related to fire

A former Jamestown woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison for charges related to a Nov. 8, 2012, fire that destroyed a home in Jamestown.

Judge Jay Schmitz sentenced Mary Kay Carlson, 29, now of Mayville, N.D., in Southeast District Court in Jamestown Friday.

Carlson had entered an Alford plea on Dec. 2, 2013, to charges of criminal conspiracy, a Class B felony, tampering with physical evidence, a Class A misdemeanor, and insurance fraud, a Class C felony.

An Alford plea indicates the defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict but does not confess to committing the crime.

Carlson was accused of conspiring with co-conspirator Derek Carlson, her husband at the time, to set the fire that destroyed a Jamestown home at 616 2nd Ave. NW. Mary Kay Carlson is now divorced from Derek Carlson and has remarried. She is now using the name Mary Kay Wilhelm, although all court proceedings and documents referred to her as Carlson.

Mary Kay Carlson was also accused of tampering with physical evidence when she transferred suicide notes, funeral plans, a cellphone, a thumb drive, a computer, one or more knives and a lock of hair to another person with the intent that those items be destroyed.

The fraudulent insurance act charge alleged that Carlson made false or misleading information in a claim for payment.

Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney, recommended a sentence of three years in prison and three years of probation along with $10,420 restitution.

“She does not have much of a criminal record but she burned down a house valued at $100,000 in a residential neighborhood,” he said. “She took advantage of a spouse who was suicidal to convince him to burn the house down for her benefit. Don’t know what adjective to use to describe a person who would take advantage of a sick person in that way.”

Scott Sandness, court-appointed defense attorney, asked for a sentence of probation and restitution. He cited Carlson’s health problems and her lack of a criminal record.

Carlson testified she had several medical issues including ovarian cysts. The treatment of the cysts resulted in kidney issues that required her to be hospitalized for three days earlier this week, she said. She also presented to the court a list of future medical appointments dealing with the cysts, kidney problems and a heart monitor.

Schmitz said the fire put other properties in the neighborhood in danger.

“I don’t think we have to keep you locked up for the safety of society,” he said. “But arson is a serious offense that needs to be deterred.”

In addition to the 15 months in prison, Carlson was sentenced to three years supervised probation and paying restitution and fees totaling about $11,000.

Derek Carlson faces charges of arson and criminal conspiracy, both Class B felonies, although no court dates are currently scheduled, according to information on the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry website.

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. A Class C felony is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A Class B felony is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at