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Appeals court upholds conviction in rural Barnesville arson

MOORHEAD — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a woman found guilty of setting multiple fires at her and her husband’s rural Barnesville farmstead in 2011.

Tara Andvik is serving a nine-year, five-month prison sentence after a jury found her guilty of three counts of first-degree arson in May 2012 in Clay County District Court.

Andvik was suspected of setting the fires herself and trying to frame an ex-lover for the fires, which destroyed the farmstead’s house and barn. In her appeal, she challenged whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict and asked for a new trial on the basis of ineffective legal counsel.

In an unpublished opinion filed Monday, the Court of Appeals affirmed Andvik’s conviction.

“The evidence presented at trial does not support any reasonable theory as to anybody other than appellant setting the fires. We will not reverse a conviction based on mere conjecture,” the opinion stated. “Therefore, we conclude that the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant is guilty of three counts of first-degree arson.”

The Court of Appeals also found that Andvik’s defense counsel effectively represented her during trial.

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