Sex offender withdraws insanity plea in arson case

By Vicky Wedig


A final pretrial conference is now scheduled for Dec. 22 for a Darien man suspected of setting fire to his bedroom while he was in it.

Joshua Fredricksen, 40, withdrew a previous plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect July 22 at a prior pre-trial conference, withdrew his demand for a speedy trial and asked for more time to find witnesses he believes are crucial to his case. Fredricksen appeared via video for that hearing from the Racine Correctional Institute, according to online court records.

Fredricksen was charged Feb. 18, 2019, with arson of a building and felony bail jumping, both as a repeater. If no agreement is reached at the pretrial conference, a three-day jury trial will begin Jan. 10.

According to the criminal complaint, the house on West Fremont Street that Fredricksen rented caught fire at about 11:35 p.m. Jan 5, 2019. The Darien Village Board approved an exemption that allowed Fredricksen, a registered sex offender, to live there despite its proximity to West Park in November 2017.

When police arrived at the fire Jan. 5, 2019, Fredricksen was not home, and smoke was coming from the eaves of the second story of the house, according to the criminal complaint. An officer entered through the unlocked front door of the house and found no one on the first floor but was unable to enter the second floor because of the smoke and heat from the fire, the complaint states. The officer moved a mattress, which was blocking the stairwell to the second floor, in his attempt to go upstairs, the complaint states.

Officers learned that Fredricksen was at Mercy Harvard Hospital with burns to his arms, face and buttocks and spoke with him there. Fredricksen said he had gone to sleep in his second-floor bedroom, and, when he woke up, he was on fire as was his room, according to the complaint. Fredricksen said he took his dog and left the house.

Fredricksen also told doctors he had gone to sleep and woke up with his arms and face on fire, according to the complaint. He told doctors, “Weird things have been happening to me since my female friend hypnotized me a year ago while we were doing drugs, and demons must be involved or something,” the complaint states.

Upon investigating the fire, a detective noted Fredricksen’s bedroom smelled strongly of gasoline, and a small red gas can that was charred on one side was found in the bedroom, according to the complaint. A fire investigation team determined the fire originated in Fredricksen’s bedroom, and the room showed suspected pour patterns from an ignitable liquid, the complaint states.

Allen Stott told police he’d spoken with Fredricksen at about 4 p.m. that day. He said Fredricksen had not paid his rent and said he was unemployed and did not have enough money, according to the complaint. An officer also learned the electricity and water at the home had been shut off because Fredricksen had not paid the utility bills, the complaint states.

A fire had also occurred at the home when Fredricksen had been living there in November 2017, according to the complaint.

Fredricksen was under bond conditions at the time on charges of fleeing resulting in bodily harm, threats to a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer causing a soft tissue injury.

Fredricksen was convicted in 2011 of sex with a child 16 years old or older and fourth-degree sexual assault, both misdemeanor offenses. He served six months in jail with work-release privileges in 2012 and was required to register as a sex offender for 15 years. The conviction resulted from having sex with a 16-year-old girl in 2010 when he was 29 years old, according to online court records.

The Darien Village Board granted Fredricksen an exemption in 2017 to its ordinance that prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, day-care centers, libraries, recreational trails, playgrounds or any other places children gather.

The exemption includes conditions that Fredricksen abide by all other sections of the ordinance, and the exception will be revoked if he is convicted of any additional sex-related offenses.


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