Judge finds probable cause in arson, attempted murder cases

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has found probable cause in two cases related to an arson involving a house in Colfax, attempted murder and recklessly endangering safety.

Following a preliminary hearing January 15, Judge Rod Smeltzer found probable cause and bound over for trial the defendant, Beth Mittelstadt, 44.

Judge Smeltzer set an arraignment hearing for Mittelstadt February 3.

Mittelstadt, who appeared in court with her attorney, Dan Chapman, is charged with one felony count of arson related to a fire at 511 East Third Avenue in Colfax last May. She also is charged with one felony count of first degree attempted murder and two felony counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety related to an incident in December during which Mittelstadt allegedly threatened Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson with a machete.

Police Chief Anderson drew his duty weapon and shot Mittelstadt one time in the upper torso.

Matt Feeney, an investigator with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, testified at the preliminary hearing that the fire which started the evening of May 24, 2014, in the house on Third Avenue where Katie Bundy and her children lived had started in the bedroom between the bed and the dresser.

No one was home at the time of the fire.

Mittelstadt told Feeney she had gone to Bundy’s house to buy methamphetamine and had given Bundy $40 or $50 for the meth.

Mittelstadt said she had tried to call Bundy numerous times that evening, but Bundy did not come back with the methamphetamine.

Feeney said Mittelstadt told him she had been upset by Bundy’s absence, that she broke some things in the house and that she had hit a window with her fist.

Chapman asked if Feeney, who is the sheriff department’s fire investigator, knew what had started the fire.

Feeney said that although they could tell where the fire had started, there was no way to tell what had started the fire.

Chapman asked if it was possible something had fallen to the floor, such as a candle.

Feeney noted there was no one home at the time, so nothing should have been burning to fall to the floor.

Shooting

Dean Fayerweather, an investigator with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department, testified that he had been one of the officers assigned to investigate the officer-involved shooting in Colfax on December 18.

Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson had told Fayerweather Mittelstadt had come at him with a machete and that Police Chief Anderson had drawn his service weapon and had shot Mittelstadt to stop the threat, Investigator Fayerweather said.

Investigator Fayerweather described the machete as being two feet long with a large blade, a short handle, and of the type “used to chop brush.”

Dunn County Sergeant Todd Kurtzhals, who had used his Taser on Mittelstadt three times while trying to take her into custody, told Fayerweather Mittelstadt had thrown the machete at him, and he believed his safety was endangered.

Sergeant Kurtzhals said if he had not had a Taser, he would have shot Mittelstadt with his service weapon because “the threat was there,” Investigator Fayerweather testified.

Investigator Fayerweather also testified he had found holes in the walls in the bedroom where Mittelstadt had allegedly stabbed the walls with the machete and that the inside doorknob had been “chopped off” when Mittelstadt swung the machete at Police Chief Anderson.

The entrance wound for the bullet was in Mittelstadt’s left breast, and medical staff made an incision in her right breast to remove the bullet, Investigator Fayerweather testified.

Sergeant Kurtzhals had told Fayerweather that Mittelstadt had been down on the floor when he arrived. Mittelstadt still had the machete in her hand and had raised herself up on one arm and threw the machete with her other hand. Sergeant Kurtzhals said his use of the Taser and Mittelstadt’s throwing of the machete occurred simultaneously, Investigator Fayerweather said.

Judge Smeltzer found probable cause in both the arson case and the case of attempted murder and recklessly endangering safety and set an arraignment hearing for Mittelstadt at 3:45 p.m. February 3.

Mittelstadt remains in custody on a $10,000 cash bail set in the arson case.

Mittelstadt also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer.