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Judge sets $1.4 million bail in fatal fire (UPDATE)

Associated Press

Armin G. Wand III (left), 32, and his brother, Jeremy L. Wand, 18, make an initial appearance in Lafayette County Circuit Court in Darlington on Wednesday. The pair are facing multiple charges in the arson deaths of three of the elder brother's children following a house fire in Argyle on Friday. Armin's pregnant wife, Sharon, was also severely burned in the blaze which investigators say was intentionally set. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A judge set bail Wednesday for a father accused of killing his three sons in a house fire last week at $1.4 million.

Armin Wand III, 32, of Argyle, faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, three counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one count of arson in connection with the fire. Lafayette County Circuit Judge William D. Johnston set his bail at $200,000 per count.

Investigators have accused Armin Wand III’s brother, Jeremy Wand, 18, also of Argyle, of helping set the fire. He faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one count of arson. The judge set his bail at $200,000 per charge as well for a total cash bond of $1.2 million.

Armin Wand III’s attorney, public defender Guy Taylor, didn’t immediately return a phone message for comment. Jeremy Wand’s attorney, Frank Medina, also didn’t immediately return a call.

According to a criminal complaint, Armin Wand III, 32, lived in a rental house in Argyle, a village of 850 people about 45 miles southwest of Madison, with his wife, Sharon Wand, 27, and their four children. He told state agents in an interview he started talking with his brother early last week about killing his family in a fire to collect on their life insurance policies.

He told the agents he wanted to make a fresh start, the complaint said. He said he was tired of his family living paycheck to paycheck and listening to his wife complain about wanting more money. She also was contemplating divorce, he said.

Jeremy Wand told agents his brother offered him $300 from the insurance payout if he helped him, the complaint said. Together they set the house on fire early Friday morning as the rest of the family slept, the complaint said.

Seven-year-old Allen Wand, 5-year-old Jeffrey Wand and 3-year-old Joseph Wand died in the blaze. Sharon Wand, who was 17 weeks pregnant, woke up and rescued 2-year-old Jessica Wand. When she handed the girl to Armin Wand III he tried to put her back in the house through a broken window, the complaint said. A woman stopped him before he could do it, though.

The girl wasn’t seriously hurt, but Sharon Wand suffered burns, the complaint said. A beam also fell on her and her unborn baby died as a result of her injuries, the children’s grandmother told the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper.

Sharon Wand remained in a Madison hospital in critical condition Wednesday.

Johnston ordered both Armin Wand III and his brother to have no contact with Sharon and Jessica Wand if they post bail. He set a preliminary hearing for both men for Nov. 13.

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