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      Prosecution rests in Kemppainen case

      A team of structural investigators took the stand Wednesday morning as the prosecution wrapped up its case against 48-year-old Ronald Kemppainen.

      Lavern Erickson and Donald Worden said they sorted through the charred remains, one layer at a time, in their attempt to determine what started a fatal fire in the laundry room of a Hancock apartment building last July.

      In addition to eliminating the room's washer and dryer, which had mostly exterior damage, the pair discovered three lighters underneath the debris that they say could have been used to cause what they determined to be an intentional blaze.

      "This was incendiary, said Erickson. I found nothing to indicate an electrical mechanical fire."

      During later testimony, Hancock Police Lieutenant Randy Mayra displayed the lighters as evidence for the court as he recalled the end of his initial interview with Kemppainen on the day of the fire.

      "He took a cigarette out of his pocket and started fumbling around for something to light it, said Mayra. And he looked at us and asked, 'Do either of you have a light?'"

      The defense began its case on Wednesday afternoon, hearing from Kemppainen TMs probation officer who testified that the defendant had stuck to his story on the two occasions they'd discussed the fire.

      "I specifically tried to nail down this ~three days TM thing, and he noted on November 1st that he was referring to coming to see me in three days," said Tom Michaels.

      It TMs still unclear whether or not Kemppainen will take the stand himself, but the court adjourned early Wednesday afternoon to await the arrival of the defense TMs fire analysis expert. That witness is expected to testify when the trial resumes Thursday morning.