A Juvenile Court judge Wednesday ordered a mental competency evaluation for a girl accused of setting a San Marcos-area wildfire in May that destroyed 40 structures, most of them homes.
“Today there was very brief hearing … in front of Judge (Aaron) Katz which addressed one count filed against a minor, and her attorney requested a mental competency evaluation,” Deputy District Attorney Shawnalyse Ochoa said outside court.
The judge granted the defense attorney’s request and ordered the girl, whose name and age were not released, to continue therapy and placed her under a curfew between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“The proceedings are hereby suspended until the minor is found competent,” Katz said in court.
A hearing was scheduled Aug. 20 for the results of the evaluation.
Ochoa said the charges the girl faces are very serious. She also explained that a mental evaluation could be allowed for one of two reasons – when a minor is under the age of 14, and/or when there are questions over the person’s ability to understand what’s happening in court or to assist their legal counsel.
The prosecutor did not say which circumstance applied in the case.
The girl is accused of igniting the Cocos Fire on the afternoon of May 14, leading to the destruction of the homes and the charring of 2,000 acres. Cal State San Marcos also had to be evacuated.
The blaze was one of more than a dozen wildfires that erupted in the San Diego area in critically hot, dry and windy conditions and raged for days. Apartments and commercial structures also were destroyed.
Investigators have found no evidence linking the suspect in the Cocos Fire to any of the other blazes, sheriff’s officials said.
Damage to private property was estimated at a total of $29.8 million. Officials set the costs of extinguishing the wildfires at $27.9 million.
– City News Service
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