WORTHINGTON — A Worthington woman will serve 120 days in jail for intentionally setting fire to a Worthington home, a crime she claims she doesn’t remember committing.
Amy Erwin, 36, was convicted Monday in Nobles County District Court of second-degree arson in relation to setting a Dover Street home on fire in December 2018. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, which will be stayed pending successful completion of probation, which is to not exceed seven years.
The Nobles County Attorney’s Office filed three charges against Erwin last year after discovering incriminating personal phone records, which included online searches about how to ignite a house fire quickly and threatening text messages to one of the home's residents.
Before being sentenced, state prosecutor Adam Johnson argued that Erwin's actions endangered many people, including the officers and volunteer firefighters who responded to the scene.
Although the damage was contained to one household, Johnson added that there was no guarantee when Erwin set fire to the home that nearby structures in the neighborhood wouldn't also be damaged. He advocated that she be required to serve the entire 120 days in jail and not have the opportunity to abate a portion of those days.
Erwin's defense attorney, Philip Elbert, said Erwin's mental health played a significant role in her behavior. He added that she's already suffered a significant consequence of having her children removed from the home and, until recently, wasn't even afforded supervised visits.
Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore said Nobles County thankfully doesn't have many arson cases.
"This was a legit arson case in which it had officers arriving at a home largely engulfed by flames," Moore said, adding that Erwin's behavior was reckless and egregious.
Erwin, in addition to the local jail sentence, was ordered to perform 100 hours of community work service, a portion of which must directly benefit the Worthington Fire Department.
Erwin will be required to make scheduled restitution payments to Lori Kamm in the amount of $71,825 for uninsured and out-of-pocket expenses related to damage to the home, which the family has reportedly owned since 1986. Erwin was also ordered to pay Mark Kamm $6,140 for his out-of-pocket expenses incurred from the incident.
During her November plea hearing, Erwin claimed to not have remembered her actions on Dec. 15, 2018 due to being intoxicated. She submitted a Norgaard plea, indicating that although she doesn’t remember, she agreed there was enough evidence to likely result in a guilty conviction should she take her case to trial.
The advantage for submitting the plea deal was the arson charge was knocked down from first to second degree. Two other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.