Austin man gets 100 months for arson, assault; Six attempted murder charges dismissed

Published 9:03 am Friday, April 26, 2019


Darrell James Wigham, 30, of Austin was sentenced to 88 months in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud for felony first-degree arson-dwelling on Thursday in Mower County District Court. He received credit for 414 days served.

He received a consecutive sentence of 12 months and one day in prison for felony fourth-degree assault of a correctional officer.

Three counts of felony attempted first-degree murder-premeditated and three counts of felony attempted murder-with intent-while committing a felony, all of which were associated with the arson case, were dismissed at the sentencing as part of a plea agreement reached on Feb. 20. Charges of felony theft of a motor vehicle, felony theft of movable property and gross misdemeanor possession of stolen property from a separate case were also dismissed.

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Judge Jeffrey Kritzer issued the sentencing.

Austin firefighters responded to a fire on March 7, 2018, at 304 11th Ave. SW. Court documents state that two women had to be rescued from the roof. A male was also in the house when the fire started and had to escape through a downstairs window.

All three told police they were staying at the house the night before and that Wigham had been there late that night and early that morning. Wigham had a confrontation with one of the women, and two of the witnesses said they saw him pouring paint thinner on a door and on the floor in a trail leading to the fireplace.

They also claimed Wigham commented that he was going to “kill them” and said, “You all just think I’m playing. You all just think I ain’t going to do (expletive) about it. You just watch when this (expletive) house burns down.”

An investigation from the state fire marshal confirmed the fire was started by an accelerant.

On May 10, 2018, Wigham attacked a correctional officer at the Mower County Jail while he was being escorted to the gymnasium. The attack was caught on jail surveillance video, which showed Wigham punching the victim three to four times on the left cheek and the back of the head. The correctional officer was evaluated at the hospital; however, there was no report of any serious injuries.

Staff believed the attack was premeditated because Wigham had been upset about being placed in 24-hour lock-up over an incident the previous day.

A review of Wigham’s criminal history shows prior convictions for motor vehicle theft, burglary and check forgery.

In addition to the sentence, Wigham must also pay $286.55 in fees and restitution.