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Columbia Planned Parenthood arson suspect to stay in jail until trial

A judge ordered the man accused of starting a fire that temporarily closed the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic to stay in jail pending a trial.

A detention hearing was held for Wesley Kaster, 42, on Thursday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Jefferson City.

According to online court records, the court granted the government’s motion to detain Kaster. The motion argued Kaster should be detained due to the strong weight of evidence against the suspect, the fact that he could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted and a history of alcohol or substance abuse.

Federal prosecutors charged Kaster on Monday with one count of maliciously damaging a building, by means of fire or an explosive, owned by an organization that receives federal assistance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said surveillance video from the clinic and neighboring businesses showed Kaster early Feb. 10 parking his van near the door of the clinic and carrying a bucket to the clinic’s outer door. Kaster broke the front door, put the bucket inside the building and threw something resembling a Molotov cocktail inside, according to a federal affidavit.

Authorities connected Kaster to the purchase of buckets and gloves recovered at the scene, which came from his workplace, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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