Wife of Bird Island arsonist pleads guilty to aiding an offender
OLIVIA — Sheena Marie Ackerson, 37, of Bird Island, has pleaded guilty to one gross misdemeanor count in connection with her husband burning down their house, which resulted in the death of the family dog.
Sheena Ackerson was originally charged in Renville County District Court with a felony count of aiding and abetting insurance fraud, but as part of a plea agreement, the charge was amended to aiding an offender — accomplice after the fact.
As part of the agreement, Sheena Ackerson received a stayed jail sentence of 365 days and one year of unsupervised probation. If she completes her probation successfully, she will not have to serve any jail time. She will also need to pay $390 in fees and fines.
Jeffrey George Ackerson Jr. pleaded guilty in October in Renville County District Court to first-degree arson and cruelty to animals, both felonies. He will be sentenced Jan. 8. As part of his plea, he requested his wife's charge be amended so it would not interfere with her employment.
According to court documents, Jeffrey Ackerson Jr. on Jan. 15 set fire to the home on Dogwood Avenue in Bird Island with a hand torch in the garage/workshop area. Firefighters from Bird Island, Olivia and Hector battled the blaze for several hours in subzero cold.
The complaint said he had complained about the house and the mounting bills associated with renovating it, which caused significant financial stress. He reportedly spoke of burning it down.
After the fire was set, Ackerson Jr. reportedly told his wife "it was done, the house was on fire," court documents said.
The couple received two checks from American Family Insurance for $5,000 each, which they both endorsed and deposited, according to the complaint. Their homeowners insurance also paid for temporary housing in Hector, the complaint said.