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December arson defendant to appear for preliminary hearing May 29

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A woman has been charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to furniture in an apartment on Laurel Street last December, Campbell County court records say. 

Sherri R. Speten is charged with first-degree arson, property destruction and criminal trespass for allegedly dumping gasoline on two mattresses and a chair before setting them on fire on Dec. 16, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case. 

The apartment was rented by Speten’s daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend, with whom Speten had been staying. The day before the fire, the two apartment tenants reportedly filled two cans of gasoline they intended to use to diagnose a vehicle problem. 

The daughter’s boyfriend told officers he awoke in the early morning hours of Dec. 16 to find Speten rummaging through the apartment. A couple of hours later, he saw light coming from the guest room she was staying in but a piece of furniture was blocking the door, preventing it from being opened. 

At around 8 a.m., Speten’s daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend went to the Campbell County Recreation Center. At 9:40 a.m., they returned to find smoke coming from the doors and found a chair on fire. 

The chair fire was put out with a bucket of water; however, they didn’t realize two other fires were ablaze in the bedrooms and evacuated the apartment after discovering them.  

According to the affidavit, the investigation revealed the fire damage was limited to the chair, the mattresses and the areas closest to them. There was minimal damage in other areas of the apartment and no evidence the fire spread from room to room. 

Per court documents, the investigators concluded the fires were separately and intentionally set. Additionally, investigators found little to no property belonging to Speten in the apartment; her belongings were later found in bags in a locked shed.  

Speten was reportedly found hiding in the backyard of a nearby residence on Wilderness Drive, where she was ultimately taken into custody, the affidavit states. 

While incarcerated in the Campbell County Detention Center, Speten allegedly made a phone call to another woman on Dec. 21 during which she admitted to setting fire to the beds and chair, per court documents.  

A preliminary hearing for Speten has been set for May 29, during which a judge will determine if there is sufficient probable cause to send the case to Campbell County District Court for further proceedings.

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