Dec. 29--LEWISTON -- More than seven months after a rash of fires that destroyed 10 downtown apartment buildings within a week, displacing more than 100 people, three of four people charged with arson still face trial.
A judge determined in August that one of the defendants wasn't competent to stand trial and likely wouldn't become competent. The three arson charges against him were dropped.
Two of the remaining three defendants are expected to go before a judge to determine their competence to stand trial. Charges against the third defendant may be dropped: A judge ruled that his confessions can't be used against him at trial.
Bryan Wood, 23, was charged with three counts of arson in fires on May 6 that destroyed two apartment buildings on Bartlett Street and one building on Horton Street.
A judge wrote that, based on his low IQ and inability to fully understand the criminal proceedings against him, he should be released to the custody of the commissioner at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, who, in turn, would free him.
Brian Morin, 30, also was charged with three counts of arson stemming from the same fires.
Morin has undergone three psychological exams: one to determine whether he was competent to assist in his defense, a second to determine his state of mind at the time of the fires and a third to provide a more complete picture of his mental state, according to Morin's attorney, Richard Charest.
He is awaiting the results of the most recent exam, Charest said. A competency hearing is likely once that report is complete. Charest filed a motion to suppress statements Morin made to police and evidence police collected in the days following the fires.
No trial date has been set.
Also facing a competency hearing, which has been scheduled for Jan. 7, is Abdi Ibrahim, 13, who was charged with four counts of arson stemming from fires that burned four apartment buildings and a garage on Bartlett and Pierce streets on May 3.
A prosecutor had filed a motion to amend the court's order for a diagnostic evaluation of Ibrahim to include his "emotional attitude and pattern of living" in addition to mental health issues, substance abuse and immaturity.
Ibrahim's attorney, Jeffrey Dolley, opposed that motion, arguing that prosecutors are seeking that information to help them decide whether to seek to bind him over to Androscoggin County Superior Court, where he would be tried as an adult.
Dolley argued that Ibrahim can't be forced to give the state information that could jeopardize his freedom.
The legal criteria the court must consider for bind-over include the nature and seriousness of the offense, characteristics of the juvenile, prior criminal record, emotional condition, age and the safety of the community. The court also must look at the rehabilitative services the youth center has to offer the juvenile.
Dolley filed a motion to suppress statements Ibrahim made to law-enforcement interviewers in the days following the fire.
A report by a state fire investigator said that Ibrahim had confessed to setting a fire at the back of a three-bay garage behind an apartment building at 149 Bartlett St. on the night of May 3.
After initially denying he was involved, Ibrahim later said he started the fire alone by lighting a cigarette and paper with a lighter, using gasoline as an accelerant.
Less than a week before the fires for which Ibrahim was charged, Brody Covey, also 13, was arrested and charged in connection with fires that destroyed three apartment buildings on Blake, Bates and Pine streets on April 29.
Covey lived in the Blake Street building, which had been condemned by the city.
A judge at 8th District Court ruled that Covey's confessions to a police detective and his mother weren't admissible at trial because he was in police custody but hadn't been read the Miranda warning.
Although the Androscoggin County District Attorney's Office strongly urged the Maine Attorney General's Office to appeal the judge's order to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills declined.