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Published October 11, 2012, 09:28 AM

Convicted arsonist Tara Andvik appealing conviction

MOORHEAD – A woman sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for setting multiple fires at her rural Barnesville farmstead is appealing her arson conviction.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM, Forum Staff Reports, inforum.com

MOORHEAD – A woman sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for setting multiple fires at her rural Barnesville farmstead is appealing her arson conviction.

The notice of appeal was filed last week on behalf of 34-year-old Tara Andvik, who is serving her prison sentence in Shakopee.

Her recently retained ap-pellate attorney, Eric Nelson of Halberg Criminal Defense in Bloomington, stated in the filing that he is still determining the precise issues for appeal, but he anticipates raising several issues:

- Violations of Andvik’s Miranda rights.

- The venue of the trial, which was Clay County District Court, and preju-dicial pretrial publicity.

- Ineffective assistance of counsel. Attorney Steven Mottinger rep-resented Andvik at trial.

- Improper argument by the prosecution, Chief Assistant County Attorney Heidi Davies.

- Improper elicitation of evidence.

- Evidentiary rulings by the trial court. The case was heard by Judge Mi-chael Kirk, who now sits on the Court of Appeals.

- Insufficient evidence for conviction.

A jury found Andvik guilty of three counts of first-degree arson on May 15. The prosecution alleged that Andvik set the fires in October 2011 to frame her ex-lover because she was upset with how he ended their affair. Two of the fires destroyed her barn and the farmhouse that also was home to her husband and two children.

Andvik denied responsibility for the fires until her sentencing on June 28, when she said, “I didn’t intend for things to go this far” and “I don’t understand why I did it.”

In addition to the 69 months in prison, Andvik was sentenced to a four-year prison term that was suspended for the duration of up to 20 years of super-vised probation. She also was ordered to pay her insurance company $13,930 in restitution.

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