/ Modified jan 27, 2024 6:52 p.m.

Judge seeks second opinion for competency evaluation of man alledged to set fire to two historic churches in Douglas

A U.S. District Court Judge said he'd like another opinion after a closed door hearing Friday

St Stephens Episcopal Church St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was extensively damaged by a fire that authorities say was intentionally started Monday.
Summer Hom, AZPM

A judge is asking for a second opinion in the competency of Eric Ridenour to stand trial for allegedly setting fire to two historic churches in Douglas.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott Rash said after an hour-long closed door hearing Friday that “in the best interest of justice” he would like to have another doctor evaluate Ridenour to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.

Ridenour is alleged to have set fire to First Presbyterian Church and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in May of last year — both more than 100-year-old churches in Douglas — now faces six federal hate crime charges along with charges of arson.

First Presbyterian Church Braces First Presbyterian Church, which was one of the churches that burned in a suspected arson case in May of 2023, has been braced to stabilize the walls. December 15, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

The judge asked for recommendations for another doctor to assess Ridenour. The next steps from there involve setting a hearing to select the doctor with the goal to complete the evaluation and submit a report to the court within 30-days.

The two Churches Ridenour is accused of setting fire to have taken steps towards rebuilding in December.

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