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Derby pleads guilty to 2 of 3 counts of wildfire arson

Kenneth J. Derby of Wadena, arrested April 30 after admitting to igniting a series of wildfires,  has now pled guilty to two of three counts of felony wildfire arson. The charges are for offenses occurring on or about April 28 and 30 of this year, and May 10 of 2012. The count for which Derby did not plead guilty will be dismissed at his sentencing hearing as part of an agreement between the prosecution and defense.

Court documents said that Derby will be released on his own recognizance until sentencing under the condition that he serve 30 days of intermediate jail time with credit for time served. Other conditions included not using alcohol or mood altering drugs, keeping in contact with his attorney and not possessing firearms or ammunition.

Assistant Wadena County Attorney Erin Stevens, who is prosecuting Derby’s case, said Minnesota state sentencing guidelines dictated that the total amount of jail time Derby can serve for the charges is 12 months and one day. Additionally, Stevens said Derby would pay restitution not only for the wildfires he was charged with setting, but also for the ones he admitted to setting but did not receive criminal charges for. Stevens said the specific amount of restitution Derby will pay depends on damage cost estimates from the DNR, which have not yet been turned in to the county attorney’s office. Stevens added that Derby will also have to pay a fine for the charges, but it is probable the court will opt only for the minimum fine because of the extensive amount of restitution Derby will already have to pay.  

Derby’s sentencing hearing is set for June 18, she said.

A call placed Wednesday to Ryan Ries, Derby’s public defender, had not been returned as of press time.