Man sentenced to 4 years in prison tied to arson of Albert Lea garage

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024

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A 19-year-old Albert Lea man was sentenced Thursday in Freeborn County District Court to four years in prison tied to starting a garage on fire on Garfield Avenue last October.

Kolten Lee Wright pleaded guilty in March to one count of aid and abet first-degree arson, a felony.

Wright will receive credit for 211 days already spent in jail since his arrest. He will be required to serve two-thirds of his sentences in prison with the remainder on supervised release.

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According to court documents, Wright was with a group of three others the evening of Oct. 6 when one of the others talked about getting revenge on a person and burning his garage down.

Wright and a juvenile reportedly lit the fire, at 816 Garfield Ave., while co-defendant Haily Merrill was the lookout. A fourth person, Kaden James Ashenfelter, has also been charged and allegedly drove the others to pick up lighter fluid from Wright’s house before driving to the Garfield house.

According to court documents, Wright told police he and the juvenile first tried to get inside the house but couldn’t get in.   

The juvenile allegedly took the lighter fluid from Wright and doused a cushion with the fluid, before Wright allegedly doused some blankets. Wright then reportedly got his lighter out and lit a brown paper bag and put it down on the lighter fluid, and it caught fire. Wright said the juvenile then reportedly ran out of the garage before he lit the fire.

Merrill in February was sentenced to four months in jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty to second-degree arson, and court proceedings are still ongoing with Ashenfelter and the juvenile. The juvenile, who has been charged as an adult in the case, has been identified as Zachary Michael Hamilton.