Monday, February 9, 2015

CASE # 2013CF001246

Trial Begins

With the following opening statement by Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Sommers, trial started.

“The evidence will show the defendant has an obsession with fire".

Twelve jurors were selected today for the trial of Nicholas Sheen, and Judge Micheal Piontec got down to the business of conducting a trial.

Nicholas Sheen is facing a total of  8 counts, including Arson of Buildings, first degree recklessly endangering safety and bail jumping.

Noah Wishau, prosecuting Attorney appeared for the State, and Nu Tran appeared for the defense.

Witnesses began testimony for the State today, including homeowner/victim Karen Badtke and Franklin Lockwood - Fire Chief of the St. Francis Fire Department and a member of the Racine County Arson Task Force.

Union Grove homeowner/victim Karen Badtke stated on the night of the fires, she was awoken by her smoke detectors, gathered enough clothes to go outside and then called 911 (at approximately 3:17 am). While outside, another fire had started near kiddy corner of the back of her house. 
When questioned by investigators of who may have had a reason to set her house on fire, her answer was Nicholas Sheen. When questioned of the motive, Karen Badtke stated that Nichols Sheen was a past tenant of the two properties and had been evicted.

Nu Tran engaged an active cross examination of the homeowner/witness, including asking any past histories of contact with Mr. Sheen after eviction. Karen Badtke stated there were contacts, but indicated no threats or adverse conversations occurred between the two after eviction.
Nu Tran continued cross examination with Chief Lockwood. Asking about the testing of the use of accelerants, Chief Lockwood stated in cross examination that he did not test for accelerants as there was enough combustible material present to start a fire.

Because of the close proximity of two simultaneous fires in Union Grove, Members of the Racine County Arson Task Force were requested to determine the origin and cause of the fires.

As a member of the Arson Task Force, St. Francis Fire Chief Franklin Lockwood investigated the fire in the homeowner/victim house. The Chief stated in court that the areas of origin of the fires started with an open flame and with human intervention. 

Trial was recessed at 3:30 pm

Tomorrow, trial will continue with more witnesses and expert testimony.

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