By Shereen Siewert

A jury trial is underway for a Wausau man accused of intentionally setting a fire at a west side home.

James Justin Mack Farrar, 30, of Wausau. March 17, 2021: Arson of building without the owner’s consent – repeater

James Justin Mack Farrar, 30, is being tried on felony arson charges in connection with the March 1 fire at a home he was renting. The home was a total loss.

Police say Farrar called 911 after setting two fires inside the home, in the 300 block of North 10th Avenue. One fire was allegedly set in the bedroom while the second fire was set in the basement, where Farrar is accused of wrapping clothing around a bundle of ammunition before igniting the bundle.

The arson charge carries a repeater enhancer, which allows for a harsher sentence if Farrar is convicted. A repeater enhancer can be added to a charge if a defendant was convicted of a felony during the five-year period immediately preceding the commission of the crime for which the person is being sentenced.

Farrar faces up to 40 years in prison on the arson charge if he is convicted, additional time due to the repeater enhancer.

Jury selection and opening statements were held Tuesday in the trial, which is expected to last three days. Prosecutors, after opening statements, called two police officers and two fire officials to testify in the case. Additional witnesses are expected for the prosecution, after which the defense will present its case.

Farrar has a long history of criminal charges in several counties including in Marathon County, where he was convicted in 2019 of second degree recklessly endangering safety, violating a harassment restraining order and bail jumping. Several additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement involving five separate cases. The recklessly endangering safety charge stemmed from a 2017 incident in which Farrar pointed a loaded pistol at a neighbor and threatened to shoot the woman and her son. He was ordered to spend three years on probation.

Marathon County Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson is hearing the case.