Adrian man charged with arson
A suspect in an unrelated case identified him.
LAKEFIELD — A suspect is set to appear in court Wednesday regarding a July structure fire at a rural Lakefield farmstead.
Police responded in the middle of the night July 14 to the fire, which occurred in an abandoned home on the property. The house sustained enough damage that it collapsed into the basement.
A family member of the property owner noted that the shed on the property had a door open — which was normally left shut — and that several items from around the property were missing. A pull-behind camper and a vehicle located on the farmstead each had a window broken.
More than two weeks later, while investigating an unrelated case, police asked the suspect if they were aware of any other buildings that had been vandalized or burned. The suspect reportedly asked at that point, "Are you talking about the place that Ashtin lit up?"
"Ashtin" was identified as Ashtin Johnson, 21, of Adrian. The person who identified him reported that Johnson had driven them by the burned-down house the previous evening to show another friend what he had done.
Later that day, police were interviewing Johnson regarding an unrelated criminal case. He had reportedly spoken in a previous interview about "heating up a farm place," and confirmed at that point that he meant the rural Lakefield home.
According to Johnson, he had gone there with the witness who identified him as well as two other people. He said that the witness was the one who originally lit the fire, but it went out, so Johnson re-lit the flame, and then everyone left.
He also admitted that he entered the shed and stole a one-hundred-foot length of rope that he found inside a cooler.
Johnson was charged with second-degree arson and third-degree burglary, both felonies. The more serious charge, arson, carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. If convicted, he will be sentenced based on criminal history.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Because Johnson was summoned to court rather than arrested, he does not have a mugshot available.