- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - Prosecutors are seeking to dismiss charges against a former high school principal in Dickinson who was accused of setting fire to his school in March.

Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning told the Associated Press he filed a motion to drop the charges because he believes insufficient evidence remains for a “reasonable expectation of conviction” after a judge earlier this week suppressed statements made by the defendant.

Southwest District Judge William Herauf on Tuesday threw out some police interviews with Thomas Sander. Herauf ruled that Sander was not read his rights before part of a police interrogation and that some of his statements were coerced.

“It appears to me that without those statements, a reasonable doubt exists,” Henning said.

Sander has pleaded not guilty to charges of arson and endangerment by fire or explosion. Both are felonies that carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

He is free on $50,000 bond but is under the custody of his father and his travel is restricted.

Defense attorney Lloyd Suhr told KXNews he is “very pleased” the state decided not to pursue the charges further.

The judge could rule on the motion Monday, Henning said.

The Catholic high school was heavily damaged in the fire, and students have been taking classes at temporary locations across Dickinson since then. Classes are expected to resume at the school in the fall.

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