Arson Suspects Appear In Court
The man and woman who were arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with a fire at Walmart made their initial appearances in Albany County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon.
Todd Lee Harnden, age 46, faces a felony charge of First Degree Arson. According to Commander Cushman at the Laramie Police Department, Harnden was arrested Thursday afternoon after eye witnesses’ reports described a man lighting a fire in the garden center area of the Walmart with the help of starter fluid. Eyewitnesses also described a vehicle driven by an older woman leaving the scene with the man. An officer recognized the description of the vehicle and those involved. After the vehicle was located on the 900 block of McCue Street, Harnden was arrested.
A public defender was appointed for Harnden during his appearance in court. His bond was set at $100,000 cash. If convicted, Harnden faces a penalty of up to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000 or two times the insurance cost or both a fine and incarceration. A preliminary hearing has been set for Thursday, August 21 at 10 a.m.
Also arrested in connection to the fire was 65-year-old Carol Gonzales. She faces two misdemeanor charges. Gonzales faces charges of Interference with a Peace Officer and Accessory after the Fact. Interference with a Peace Officer carries a penalty of up to one year in prison or a fine of no more than $1000 or both. Accessory after the Fact carries a penalty of up to six months incarceration or a fine of no more than $750 or both.
Gonzales expressed concern for her pets’ well-being while making her appearance. In addition she stated that her back is in pain due to a recent surgery. Her bond was set at $1750.
Meanwhile, the Walmart in Laramie reopened between 7:30 and 8 p.m. last night. Employees say no areas of the store have been closed after the blaze.