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Shelton church fire trial scheduled February 1

Suspect claims he was insane at the time
Mathew Poehler goes on trial for arson in connection with a December 2019 fire at a rural...
Mathew Poehler goes on trial for arson in connection with a December 2019 fire at a rural church near Shelton.(Buffalo County Detention Center)
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 3:58 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - A man who claims he was insane at the time he burned down a rural Buffalo County church goes on trial next month.

Forty-year-old Mathew Poehler is accused of starting the fire which burned down Zion Lutheran Church, located at 24975 Sioux Road, about ten miles northwest of Shelton December 2019. Poehler has pleaded not responsible by reason of insanity. He has also waived a jury trial. His trial before a judge, also known as a bench trial, is scheduled for Feb. 1 in Buffalo County District Court.

Court records show authorities found diesel fuel in Poehler’s pickup. They believe that diesel fuel was used to start the fire.

Poehler pleaded not guilty to the arson charge in June. The court later granted his attorney’s request for a evaluation to determine whether or not he is competent to stand trial. In September, Poehler pleaded not responsible by reason of insanity.

If convicted on the arson charge he could get up to four years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

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