Charges dropped in Austin arson cases

Brian Brandner Brian Brandner

Accused firebug found mentally incompetent.

Posted: Oct. 25, 2018 3:30 PM

AUSTIN, Minn. – Charges have been dropped against an accused arsonist after he is ruled mentally incompetent.

Brian James Brandner, of Austin, was arrested in May 2017 and charged with 1st degree arson and attempted 1st degree arson. Law enforcement says he set fire to a garbage can next to the Freedom Value Station on 4th Street NW in Austin and then set some material on fire outside a home in the 400 block of 3rd Avenue NW.

Police said Brandner confessed to starting both fires but after a mental evaluation determined that Brandner did not understand what he was doing at the time, charges against him were dismissed on October 1. As a result of being ruled incompetent, Brandner has been placed in civil commitment.

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