Ott out: Hardee’s arson suspect released from jail

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

After nearly 20 months in the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center jail, Michael Ott has been freed after being found not guilty of arson in the fire that burned the Hardee’s on Hwy. 2 to the ground in October 2015.

No one was injured in the fire, and Ott was found not guilty on March 23 of this year. However, he was found guilty of burglary, a C-level felony.

Ott’s attorney, Ulysses Jones, petitioned the court for a new trial in April in order to overturn the guilty verdict on the burglary charge. That request was denied.

Ott’s release comes with conditions. Prosecutor Kari Agotness argued for $1,500 in restitution, three years in the Department of Corrections with credit for 600 days served and the rest suspended. She also argued for three years of supervised probation.

Jones presented the case that because Ott had spent 20 months in jail and had a fairly clean criminal record, he should be responsible for only the $1,500 in restitution and credit for time served.

“We feel there is no reason to put Mr. Ott on probation,” Jones said.

Judge Donovan Foughty sided with the prosecution, sentencing Ott to 24 months of supervised probation. However, he also gave Ott credit for time served and suspended the remainder of his sentence, ending his long period of incarceration.

Foughty acknowledged Ott’s long stay in jail compared to the charge he was ultimately found guilty of. He also warned Ott to stay out of trouble while free on probation.

“You have done significantly hard time. I do recognize that,” Foughty said. “Don’t do anything stupid.”