Mental evaluation ordered for Holy Fire suspect after more courtroom outbursts

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SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A judge on Friday ordered a mental evaluation for the man suspected of starting the destructive Holy Fire after the defendant made some rambling, incoherent statements and wouldn't confirm he understood the charges against him.

Forest Clark's arraignment came after two previous attempts were postponed, the first one because he refused to leave his jail cell and the second after he exhibited bizarre behavior in the courtroom, KTLA reported.

During his latest court appearance, the 51-year-old again declared his innocence, but it was unclear whether he was even fully aware of the charges against him.

Clark has been charged with a number of felony accounts, including aggravated arson, arson of inhabited property, arson of a forest, criminal threats, and two felony counts of resisting and deterring an executive officer, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Clark was arrested a day after the fire began and investigators said there is evidence suggesting he was the one who started it.

His cabin in the Holy Jim area was the only one of 14 standing after the fire burned through the community, the Orange County Register reported the day after he was taken into custody.

After conferring with Clark's counsel, the judge made the decision to suspend the criminal proceedings until they assess whether the defendant is mentally competent to stand trial.

She ordered two doctors - one chosen by each side of the case - to perform an evaluation on Clark.

"The court wants to note, just for clarity, that the defense has adamantly objected to this determination," the judge said.

Read more about the hearing at

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