DARLINGTON — The two brothers accused in the deaths of three children in an Argyle house fire Sept. 7 made their first appearances in Lafayette County Circuit Court Sept. 12.
Armin J. Wand III, 32, and Jeremy L. Wand, 18, each face three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and an arson charge. Armin Wand faces an additional attempted first-degree intentional homicide charge.
Circuit Judge William Johnston set bail at $1.4 million for Armin Wand and $1.2 million for Jeremy Wand — $200,000 per charge. Johnston set the preliminary hearing for each for Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8:30 a.m.
The intentional homicide charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The attempted homicide charges carry a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison. The arson charge has a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The handcuffed Wands were wearing bulletproof vests over their Lafayette County Jail clothing. They sat with their heads mostly down during the 25-minute hearing, only occasionally talking to their lawyers. Assistant state public defender Guy Taylor represented Armin Wand, and assistant state public defender Frank Medina represented Jeremy Wand.
Taylor said Armin Wand’s only income is Supplemental Security Income.
Medina said Jeremy Wand is a senior at Argyle High School and has “no prior record to speak of.” Jeremy Wand is also facing two misdemeanor charges, “Entry onto a construction site or into a locked building, dwelling or room,” and resisting an officer, for an incident July 11, according to court records.
About 25 people attended the Wands’ hearing, including uniformed Argyle police and Lafayette County sheriff’s deputies, plainclothes officers, and investigators from the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
State assistant attorneys general Richard Dufour and Roy Korte are prosecuting the case for Lafayette County. District Attorney Charlotte Doherty is retiring at the end of the year.
The Wands are accused in the deaths of Armin Wand’s three sons — Allen, 7, Jeffrey, 5, and Joseph, 3 — in a house fire that also critically injured Wand’s pregnant wife, Sharon, and injured their daughter, Jessica, 2, in the Argyle house they were renting Sept. 7.
Allen, Jeffrey and Joseph Wand died of smoke inhalation, according to the criminal complaint. Sharon Wand remains in critical condition at UW Hospital in Madison. Jessica Wand was treated and released from a hospital after the fire.
According to the criminal complaint, Armin and Jeremy Wand began planning three days earlier to burn down the house so Armin Wand could collect on life insurance policies on the lives of Sharon Wand and their children and make a “fresh start.”
Wand told Division of Criminal Investigation agents that “he was tired of his family struggling from day to day, living from check to check, and Sharon always complaining about wanting more money and … never satisfied with the amount of money that was available for the family.”
The criminal complaint said Armin Wand suggested starting a house fire that would appear to be electrical in cause, similar to the fire that occurred at his house in April. Armin Wand agreed to pay Jeremy Wand $300 from the life insurance settlement, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the criminal complaint, Armin and Jeremy Wand used sheets of paper to start the house fire near a TV and computer in the Wands’ living room, and under the futon on which Sharon Wand was sleeping in the living room, Sept. 7 around 3 a.m.
The criminal complaint said that Armin Wand told Jeremy Wand to lock the door to the bedroom in which Allen and Jeffrey Wand were sleeping. Jeremy Wand told investigators he locked the door to ensure that no flames entered their bedroom.
Allen and Jeffrey Wand’s bodies were found lying together in their bedroom. Joseph Wand was sleeping on a couch in the living room when the fire started, according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint said Sharon Wand woke up and tried to put out the fire with a blanket, before Armin Wand pulled Jeremy Wand outside.
The neighbor who made the 911 call is quoted in the criminal complaint as having seen Armin Wand at one of the windows of the house holding Jessica Wand. Armin Wand told investigators he was intending to put Jessica back inside the house before the neighbor came over.
The Wands’ bail includes a requirement to not have contact with Sharon or Jessica Wand.