Cody Dahl First Appearance

A rural Richville man accused of burning down his own home has been ordered to undergo mental health assessments at Lakeland Mental Health Center in Fergus Falls.

Thirty-five-year-old Cody James Dahl made his first district court appearance this week on a charge of first-degree arson.

According to a court complaint, authorities were called to Dahl’s home west of Ottertail Saturday night after a neighbor reported smoke coming from Dahl’s home. When an Otter Tail County deputy arrived at the scene, he observed Dahl leaving the scene and his house on fire.

That same deputy pulled Dahl’s vehicle over and when confronting Dahl, could smell smoke consistent with a house fire, distinguished from a campfire. Black soot was allegedly on Dahl’s hands, neck, and face.

The deputy reportedly commented to Dahl that he smelled like a fire and asked him if he started any fires. Dahl allegedly thought about that for a second and stated he started his house on fire. When the deputy asked him why, he responded that he no longer wanted to live there. Dahl was arrested for arson and taken to jail. Dahl was reportedly in possession of a lighter, crumpled up paper and a headlamp. During a second interview, Dahl allegedly stated that he started a fire in the garage and used gasoline. The house was encumbered by a mortgage from Wells Fargo.

A Rule 20 mental evaluation was ordered. Bond was set at $50,000 with cash bail at $5,000.

The mental evaluation, due back to Judge Sharon Benson within 60 days, will determine if Dahl is capable of understanding his criminal proceedings and is able to participate in his defense.

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