Laramie Man Pleads Not Guilty In Wal-Mart Arson
The man accused of setting fire to the garden center in the Laramie Wal-Mart has pleaded not guilty on one count of First Degree Arson.
Todd Lee Harnden appeared before Judge Donnell in Albany County District Court today to enter the not guilty plea at his arraignment.
Court documents show that 46-year-old Harnden was arrested on August 14, 2014 in connection with a fire at Wal-Mart earlier in the day. Employees at the store told police they witnessed a man pour lighter fluid onto a stack of charcoal briquettes and then light it on fire. Surveillance footage allegedly shows Harnden walking around the garden center and “crouching in the area of the charcoal” before leaving the scene, according to the documents.
Surveillance also allegedly shows Harnden entering the store with his mother, who provided her ID to the cashier while checking out. According to the affidavit of probable cause, this allowed officers to identify her. A subsequent investigation led them to an address where they located Harnden.
According to the documents, police spoke with Harnden who said he was sorry for what he did and that he “did it because Wal-Mart is a piece of s**t.”
Randy Hiller, who represented Harnden at the arraignment, requested bond be reduced so Harnden could seek medical treatment. Prosecutor Josh Merseal requested bond remain at $100,000 cash due to Harnden’s criminal history and a past of not appearing for court.
Judge Donnell kept bond at $100,000 cash, agreeing that a past felony conviction and previous failures to appear did not make Harnden a good candidate for a reduced bond. Judge Donnell said he would consider options for Harnden to get any necessary medical treatment.
Harnden’s trial is currently set for April 15 and 16.
If convicted, Harnden faces up to 20 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $20,000 or both.