A mental competency evaluation was ordered Tuesday for a man who was on felony probation for threatening to blow up a local hospital when he was charged with arson for allegedly setting a trash can on fire in downtown San Diego.
The investigation into the kiosk fire and the suitcase fire is continuing, said Deputy District Attorney Kyle Sutterley.
Smith will be examined by a doctor to determine if he understands the charges against him and can assist his attorney at trial. A mental competency hearing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
At his arraignment last month, Smith went on a rant about President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. The defendant, who faces three years in prison if convicted, also told Judge Jay Bloom he was not guilty of the crime charged.
“I’m not taking a fall for nobody,” the defendant told the judge.
The first of the three blazes broke out shortly before 5 a.m. on Nov. 20 and gutted a dessert-crepe cart outside the main entrance to Horton Plaza.
Less than an hour later, the contents of a refuse container in the 200 block of Broadway and a small piece of luggage lying next to a nearby bus stop also were found burning, said Sgt. Rick Pechin of the San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team.
A surveillance camera captured images of a man setting fire to the trash can, and investigators used the footage to track down the alleged perpetrator, identified as Smith. The suspect was taken into custody in the area without incident about 6 a.m., Pechin said.
The fires occurred two months after a hot dog cart was torched at Horton Plaza. Smith is under investigation in connection with that blaze, as well as the three that took place on Nov. 20, the sergeant said.
— City News Service
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