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Judge wants to consider options other than prison for Willmar, Minn., teen

WILLMAR -- District Judge Kathryn N. Smith continued Andrew Charles Wyman's dispositional hearing until May 17 so that she may consider alternatives to prison time for the 18-year-old Willmar teen.

Wyman absconded from Prairie Lakes Youth Programs on Feb. 19 while serving his juvenile sentence on arson, burglary and theft charges for his role in the two-week crime spree of stealing and destroying vehicles and setting fire to an occupied Willmar home.

During a hearing Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court, Wyman admitted that he left Prairie Lakes, hitched a ride to Las Vegas and then to Los Angeles, Calif., where he lived for at least a month before calling his mother, who provided a bus ticket and cash to return to the Willmar area. Wyman said he then stayed at his father's home until he was arrested April 3 by CEE-VI Drug Task Force agents.

Wyman said he ran from Prairie Lakes because he was going to be penalized for small infractions and assumed he would be sent to prison. The teen read a statement to the judge and cried as he said that he was scared and would do anything to not go to prison.

"I'm ready to change my life," he said. "I'm done playing kid games."

The hearing Monday was to consider revocation of the extended juvenile jurisdiction for Wyman and execution of an adult sentence.

Wyman's juvenile sentence, handed down by Smith in September, included a stayed adult sentence of 75 months in prison on the first-degree arson charge, to be imposed only if he does not comply with the juvenile sentence. He was also ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.

Wyman's accomplice, Chase John Hodapp, 20, of Willmar, was sentenced to 39 months in prison for his role in the April 19 to May 3 crime spree. Hodapp also was ordered to pay $39,219.54 in restitution and $450 in fines.

Assistant County Attorney Shane Baker and Kandiyohi County Corrections Officer John Petron both told Smith they recommended that Wyman's extended juvenile jurisdiction be revoked and that his adult prison sentence be executed.

Baker outlined that Wyman had an intentional violation of his probation and that the teen had been in trouble at Prairie Lakes before he fled -- for acting out when he did not receive a holiday pass and acting out while on a work-release crew -- and Baker noted that Wyman spent 45 days on the run and did not turn himself into law enforcement.

"The first thing you have to do is be there," Baker said. "Mr. Wyman's way of following through was absconding."

Wyman's attorney, Carter Greiner, told Smith there was no legitimate excuse for what his client did by running away, but that the teen made another impulsive decision while he was making progress in the Prairie Lakes transitions program.

"We shouldn't lock him up and essentially throw away the key," Greiner said. "We are asking for one last chance. Society is better off with him rehabilitated."

Smith asked that Petron and Greiner turn in reports on other treatment options by May 14 so that she could consider them before the May 17 hearing.

In addition to this case, Wyman made his first appearance last week on misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct for his role in an April 10 fight in the Kandiyohi County Jail. At the end of the hearing, Smith warned Wyman against any similar activity.

"In the meantime, Andrew, any misconduct in the jail will weigh heavily against you," the judge said.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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