Man pleads guilty to Lake Mills arson

Published 1:38 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Lake Mills, Iowa, man charged with arson of a home and van in Lake Mills in April pleaded guilty to the crime on Tuesday in Winnebago County District Court.

Larry Smit

Larry Dick Smit, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree arson, a felony, tied to the fire at 102 N. Fourth Ave. W in Lake Mills on April 7.

He initially faced two of the same counts.

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Winnebago County Attorney Adam Sauer said Smit is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. June 21.

Sauer and Smit’s public defender issued a joint recommendation that Smit serve 10 years in prison.

A pre-sentence investigation was also ordered.

Smit has been in custody since he was arrested the same day of the fire, shortly after authorities received a call of the blaze on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Lake Street.

By the time firefighters arrived, the house and a Plymouth Voyager minivan were engulfed in flames.

Firefighters reportedly encountered Smit, who was described as “a man who was disturbed” and who would not let them fight the fire.

Court records state witnesses also reportedly saw Smit put gasoline on the van and then set it on fire.

After police arrived at the scene, Smit was subdued with a Taser and arrested.

Smit was a former tenant of the house who was living in the camper next to the home. He was reportedly remodeling the home.

Smit also faces two charge of interfering with official acts — one for interference with police and one for interference with firefighters.

He likewise faces a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, after authorities reportedly found multiple syringes, a wooden dugout used to hold marijuana, a pocketknife with a black tar-like residue and a spoon with residue during a walk-through of the crime scene.

These charges have not yet been resolved and are still pending.