Man ruled not guilty by reason of insanity for burning his house down believing witches were in it

The (Sumter) ItemJune 2, 2013 

A 45-year-old Sumter man charged with third-degree arson in January 2012 after he burned his own home to the ground was deemed not guilty by reason of insanity by 3rd Circuit Judge R. Ferrell Cothran during a recent hearing at the Sumter County Courthouse.

The state Department of Mental Health made a recommendation for that verdict on April 13, several months after Richard Clark was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation regarding his charges. Third Circuit Assistant Solicitor R. Kirk Griffin told Cothran on Thursday that Clark burned the house down because he believed witches were in the home.

“The thought of an individual burning his own house down for no apparent reason, with nothing to gain from the act, I have no reason to challenge their findings,” Griffin said.

Cothran ordered Clark committed to a state mental health facility for no more than 120 days but cautioned that there is a 168-day waiting period for such facilities.

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