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Mittelstadt: no plea deal, arson trial scheduled June 18 – 19

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  — Although it was possible a plea deal could have been reached, a two-day jury trial is now scheduled to go forward starting June 18 for a 44-year-old woman accused of setting fire to a house in Colfax.

Beth Mittelstadt appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court for a final pre-trial hearing June 5 before Judge Rod Smeltzer.

Mittelstadt’s attorney, John Bachman, communicated with the court by speaker phone.

No agreement has been reached in the case, Bachman said.

Mittelstadt originally had asked for a jury trial, then asked for a bench trial, but now wants a jury trial again, Bachman said.

A bench trial is tried before a judge, and there is no jury.

The two-day jury trial will go forward as scheduled and will begin June 18 at 8:30 a.m. with jury selection.

Mittelstadt is accused of setting fire to a house at 511 East Third Avenue in Colfax in May of 2014 and is charged with one felony count of arson. The house was occupied by Katie Bundy, although no one was home at the time of the fire.

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

Feeney testified that 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, he said.

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.

In addition to one felony count of arson, Mittelstadt is charged in a separate case with felony counts of first degree attempted homicide, two felony counts of recklessly endangering safety and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer in connection with an incident involving a machete.

Colfax Police Chief William Anderson had gone to an apartment on Main Street December 18 above the Colfax Arts and Antique Mall where Mittelstadt was staying to execute a warrant related to the arson in Colfax last May.

Mittelstadt allegedly threatened the police chief with a machete, and Police Chief Anderson used his duty weapon and shot her once in the upper torso.

Mittelstadt allegedly threatened sheriff’s deputies with the machete as well.

A jury trial is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court in November for the charges of attempted homicide and recklessly endangering safety.

Bachman is Mittelstadt’s second attorney.

Mittelstadt appeared in court April 9 with the first public defender assigned to her case, Dan Chapman, and said that she wanted a new attorney.

After trying to dissuade Mittelstadt from changing attorneys, Judge Smeltzer formally granted Chapman’s motion to withdraw as Mittelstadt’s attorney, and because Mittelstadt requested a speedy trial, scheduled the trial June 18 and June 19 for the felony case of arson.

Mittelstadt remains in custody on a $10,000 cash bail set in the arson case December 29.