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Suspect acquitted in 2008 fire

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A Dakota County jury has acquitted the man accused of setting the Farmington American Legion on fire Feb. 10, 2008.

On Friday, the jury delivered a not guilty verdict in the case against Kevin Leroy Kraus, the man who was brought up on felony charges for causing the fire after allegedly dropping lit cigarette butts down an air return shaft at the Legion.

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Farmington police detective sergeant Lee Hollatz said the jury found that a video tape from the night of the fire did not provide sufficient proof Kraus was the one who had lit the cigarettes and dropped them down the return air vent. Arguments for Kraus indicated a woman who was with him that night convinced the jury there was reasonable doubt about his guilt, Hollatz said.

Though DNA was collected at the scene of the fire, investigators were unable to directly link that DNA to Kraus, Hollatz said. Though it was something that investigators knew could hurt the case against Kraus, Hollatz said he believes the Farmington Police Department conducted a thorough investigation by including those results.

"It was a tough case to prove," he said.

Farmington American Legion manager Dawn Paget, who oversaw the renovation process following the fire, had little to say about the jury's decision.

"What do you say?" she asked. "I'm more than disappointed. I don't even know what to say."

The 2008 fire caused more than $940,000 in damage to the American Legion.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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