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Local News

Jury sent to weigh arson case

WOODSTOCK – Jurors at 11:20 a.m. today, were sent to deliberate a verdict for Joseph O. Ziegler, the man charged with arson stemming from an August 2012 fire that destroyed two cars and severely damaged a home.

Prosecutors have said 24-year-old Ziegler torched the wrong Pistakee Highands house that night. They said he set out for revenge against Nick Pennington, whom Ziegler believed stole his drugs. But he missed his intended target, instead setting fire to Roseanne Aitken's house as she and her dog slept inside.

Pennington lives two doors away from Aitken.

"In his misguided quest for revenge against Nick Pennington, he simply went to the wrong house," Assistant State's Attorney Dave Johnston said.

But defense attorneys argued that the state presented no evidence tying Ziegler to the crime. There was no fingerprint evidence, and Ziegler had no traces of flammable material on his clothing.

"[Prosecutors] may have proven an arson, but they have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe had anything to do with it," Assistant Public Defender Rick Behof said.

The retrial for Ziegler began this week before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather. The Elmhurst man stood trial in November, but after nine hours of deliberation jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict and Prather declared a mistrial.

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