Judge: Wildfire Suspect May Be Incompetent
Dec. 17, 2002
PHOENIX (AP) _ A firefighter accused of setting a wildfire that merged with another to become the largest in Arizona history may be incompetent to stand trial, but more mental tests are needed, a judge ruled Monday.
Leonard Gregg was ordered sent to a federal Bureau of Prisons hospital for a new, four-month evaluation. U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said he had questions about a psychological report because a team of doctors had different reasons for declaring Gregg unfit to stand trial.
A new trial date could be set if Gregg is found competent after his hospital stay. He was originally scheduled for trial Jan. 7.
Gregg, 29, is accused of lighting a fire on June 18 that later merged with another. Together, the fires consumed 469,000 acres, destroyed nearly 500 homes and forced the evacuation of about 30,000 people.
The second fire was started by a woman who had been lost in the wilderness for two days. She set the fire to attract a television news helicopter. Prosecutors declined to charge her, saying she had no criminal intent.
Deborah Euler-Ajayi, Gregg's attorney, argued her client ``has many symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, his mental functioning is very low.''
Federal prosecutors agreed that Gregg should be re-evaluated.
Gregg allegedly set fire to dry grass in hopes of earning $8 an hour as part of a Bureau of Indian Affairs fire crew. He remains in jail without bond.