ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Convicted Washburn arsonist committed for mental care

A Washburn man accused of 19 counts of arson and causing more than a half-million dollars in damage was committed today to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services for 10 years.

A Washburn man accused of 19 counts of arson and causing more than a half-million dollars in damage was committed today to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services for 10 years.

Hendrik-Jan Veenendaal, 30, was found not guilty of arson because of mental disease or defect after a court hearing in Bayfield County Circuit Court last week. The defendant will be committed to a yet-to-be-determined mental health institution.

Veenendaal set fire to houses, dump trucks, boats, the Ondossagon school and other structures, causing about $500,000 in damage between Oct. 29, 2005, and Dec. 10, 2006, according to a 19-count complaint filed in Bayfield County Circuit Court last February.

In the first phase of the two-part court trial last week, Judge John P. Anderson found Veenendaal guilty of three felony counts of arson. After the second phase of the trial, Anderson ruled that Veenendaal suffered from a mental illness that did not allow him to differentiate between right and wrong. Anderson heard testimony from mental health experts and ruled that Veenendaal suffers from a mental illness that doesn't allow him to control his actions to the requirements of the law.

Bayfield County District Attorney Craig Haukaas had argued that the defendant knew right from wrong and should have been held criminally responsible for the consequences of his actions.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's a tremendous feeling of dissatisfaction," Haukaas said by phone after the commitment hearing. The prosecutor declined further comment.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.