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Accused arsonist not allowed to plead insanity

Cary Ashby • Jun 3, 2014 at 5:07 PM

An accused arsonist isn't allowed to enter a plea of "not guilty by reason of insanity."

"The doctor didn't find any basis for the plea," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said at the beginning of Monday's hearing without elaborating.

The defendant, former Plymouth resident Christopher A. Barber, 19, of Shelby, is charged with aggravated arson, which is punishable by three to 11 years in prison. The first-degree felony is in connection with a June 25 apartment fire investigated by the Willard Police Department.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo agreed to stipulate to the doctor's report and assessment Monday. This was the second evaluation that Longo had requested.

"There's not much point in continuing to beat a dead horse," Longo told the judge.

Barber, who has a final pre-trial hearing July 14, has a trial set for the following day. Attorneys expect the trial to take as long as three days. Longo has said there might a "a lot of scientific evidence" presented and it's "quite possible" he might request to have the jury view the suspected crime scene.

A cat died in the fire that caused about $100,000 worth of damage. Prosecutors have accused Barber of setting a sheet of paper and some bedding on fire, which could have left four families homeless. However, nobody was injured.

Barber must post a $100,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail.

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