Editors note: This story was updated on Nov. 29, 2023.
The federal trial against Dwight C. Henline, a 34-year-old Friday Harbor man, concluded. Henline was suspected to have caused a fire that destroyed three historical buildings and damaged several others in April of 2022.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will begin evaluating whether to retry the case this week. That assessment will include conversations with the victims of the crime, consideration of feedback we got from the jury, and discussions about what—if anything—we could do differently to achieve a different outcome,” Emily Langlie, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. According to Langlie, by statute the case needs to be brought to trial again within 70 days of the mistrial, absent a reason to extend that. The defense has indicated that they could not be ready for a trial that soon and would be looking for a trial date in approximately March.
The government expects to ask the court to set a trial date in early January, at least as a marker and would have no objection to a later date to accommodate the needs of the defense. “That said, the government hopes to make a decision on whether to retry the case before the winter holidays,” Langlie explained.
If the government decides not to seek a second trial, the case will be dismissed.
Currently, Henline remains in custody. The defense has filed a motion Nov. 22 to reopen the detention hearing and release him. A hearing has yet to be scheduled.