Man charged in Lowell barn fire that killed 13 horses

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Payton Mellema, courtesy Kent County.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A man was charged Friday in a barn fire in Lowell that killed 13 therapy horses.

Investigators claim in court documents that Payton Mellema admitted to chaining barn doors closed and starting a fire April 8 at the Barn for Equine Learning, 3203 Timpson Ave. SE.

Mellema was charged Friday with third-degree arson and killing/torturing animals. He faces up to 14 years behind bars if convicted on both counts.

Mellema was previously named in a personal protection order filed against him by the owner of the barn, Kat Welton. In it, she wrote she feared that an attack on her and her animals was imminent.

The Barn for Equine Learning obtained six new therapy horses after the 13 were killed in the fire.

Mellema is scheduled to be back in court Sept. 15 for a probable cause hearing.

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