A 32-year-old Illinois man announced in court on March 26 that he had set the fire that led to the death of his 87-year-old grandmother several days earlier, on March 22. The man was appearing by video monitor from jail when he incriminated himself and said that he had done the act because of a mental disability.
The man is facing one charge of criminal damage to property, two charges of arson and two charges of aggravated arson. At one point, the judge reprimanded him for an outburst. She said people wanted him to keep quiet because they were trying to protect him. The man’s brother and mother were present in the courtroom.
The suspect’s mother was rescued by firefighters from the second floor of her home, but she was severely burned and died later that day in the hospital. The house was left uninhabitable. The man is facing up to 14 years in prison on some of the charges and as many as 60 on others.
An individual who is facing charges for serious felonies may want to consult an attorney. There may be several options for the person depending on the particular circumstances. For example, in some cases, the person may want to work out a deal with the prosecutor. This may involve pleading guilty to less serious charges and receiving a lighter penalty. In a case like this one, in which a defendant claims to have a mental disability, it might be necessary to establish that the person has the mental capacity for the legal proceedings. This depends on the nature of the disability. An attorney might also help a defendant plan a strategy for pleading not guilty and going to court.