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Jamestown man receives sentence for arson

A Jamestown man was sentenced to 54 days in jail on charges of arson and criminal conspiracy in Southeast District Court in Jamestown Tuesday.

Derek Lee Carlson, age 33 or 34, pleaded guilty to the charges under a plea agreement before Judge Jay Schmitz. After entering the plea, he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison with all but 60 days suspended and credit for six days already served. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay fees and restitution totaling $10,700.

Carlson was accused of starting or maintaining a fire with intent to destroy the building for the purpose of collecting insurance for the loss on Nov. 9, 2012. He was also accused of conspiring with another to commit the crime of arson in events occurring from Nov. 1, 2012, to Nov. 28, 2012. Both charges are Class B felonies.

The fire occurred at 616 2nd Ave. NW, in Jamestown, on Nov. 9, 2012. The house was completely destroyed.

Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney, said Carlson conspired with his wife to burn the house down. He said Carlson was married but estranged from Mary Kay Carlson at the time of the fire. Mary Kay has since remarried and is now known as Mary Kay Wilhelm.

“When he became suicidal, she suggested he burn the house down,” Fremgen said. “She indicated she would name an adopted child after him.”

Fremgen said Carlson spread gas on the main and second floor of the house and went into the basement with a Bible. He couldn’t stand the smoke, so he left the building and went to an apartment where he attempted suicide.

Fremgen said the plea agreement reflected that Carlson had cooperated with law enforcement officers during the investigation.

Bill Mackenzie, court-appointed defense attorney, said Carlson was vulnerable at the time of the fire.

“This would never have happened if he wouldn’t have been in the frame of mind he was,” he said.

Mary Kay Carlson was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years of probation on charges related to the same fire on Jan. 31.

A Class B felony is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452701-952-8452 or by email at

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