May 18—ST. PETER — The man who burned down his St. Peter bowling alley did not speak before a judge ordered him to spend six months in jail and pay nearly $77,000 in restitution.
Dwight Lee Selders, 48, formerly of Le Sueur, has taken "full responsibility for his actions," his attorney, Patrick Casey, told the judge.
Selders set fire to the KingPins bowling alley on Feb. 16, 2020. He pleaded guilty to felony second-degree arson in March and was sentenced Tuesday in Nicollet County District Court.
Judge Allison Krehbiel largely followed the sentence suggested to in the plea agreement.
Selders will serve three months in jail starting in August, followed by another three months starting in August 2022. He will be eligible for work release.
Additional time in prison will be waived if he successfully completes the other terms of the sentence, including 10 years of probation.
Selders also was ordered to pay almost $77,000 in restitution. Nearly $73,000 will go to the city of St. Peter, which removed the burned debris from the property.
Selders co-owned KingPins with a woman who had ended her romantic relationship with Selders and told him she wanted out of the business a few days before the fire, according to court documents.
Surveillance video reportedly showed Selders look back toward a fire as he left the bowling alley and went home without calling 911, court documents say. The building was nearly engulfed before firefighters arrived after someone else saw and reported the blaze.
Selders reportedly gave conflicting accounts to investigators, including initially claiming he was never in the building that morning and lastly stating he panicked after accidentally starting a fire while fixing equipment.
Casey asked the judge to grant a stay of imposition, which would have guaranteed no prison time and reduced the charge to a misdemeanor if Selders completed the terms of the sentence.
"Mr. Selders came before the court, took full responsibility for his actions and is not going to be challenging any restitution in this case," Casey said, adding that Selders has no prior criminal history.
Selders declined an opportunity to make a statement.
Assistant Nicollet County Attorney Shannon Ness objected to the stay of imposition.
"There is no doubt that the defendant's crime had a significant impact on St. Peter," Ness said. "Not only did the taxpayers have to foot a bill for cleaning up, the community also lost a place to gather and spend time with family and friends. Additionally, the fire was a significant public safety risk, not only for law enforcement and firefighters, but there were also homes and businesses in close proximity to KingPins that could have sustained damage."
Krehbiel denied the stay of imposition.
"This was a very serious crime and a very dangerous crime and we're just lucky that no one of those who responded to the fire were hurt," she said.