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|03-01-03: Lutz released to custody of foster
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
WAPAKONETA - Wayne L. Lutz Jr., a New Bremen man who is accused of
setting fire to his home last November, was released into the custody of his foster
parents, Michael and Suzanne Hoelscher of St. Marys, at a pretrial hearing Friday morning
in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court.
Lutz, 34, who allegedly set fire to his own house in November 2002 and
later pleaded not guilty to an aggravated arson charge, was found to be competent by
Common Pleas Court Judge Frederick Pepple in an early February hearing.
In seeking the release for his client, Lima attorney Andrew King said
Lutz, who was diagnosed in 1994 with bipolar disease, has arrangements in place for
inpatient psychological treatment should such be deemed necessary by physician V. K.
Chalasani of Wapakoneta.
Additionally King said doctors consider Lutz's condition stable at this
time due to daily medication since the time of his incarceration in November.
According to a New Bremen Police Department report, patrolman Chris
McKinney arrived at Lutz's home at the corner of First and North Jefferson street shortly
after midnight on Nov. 17 to find the house already engulfed in flames.
On McKinney's approach, Lutz ran back into the burning house locking
the door behind him. McKinney kicked in the door and grabbed Lutz, pulling him outside.
Lutz was home alone at the time of the fire.
Officers searched the house after the fire was extinguished and found
empty gasoline cans, several books of matches as well as a loaded 12-gauge shotgun.
McKinney had been at the home the previous day for a domestic issue.
The report said Lutz and his wife had been having marital difficulties.
Lutz's former wife Kelly was among about a dozen supporters who
attended Friday's pretrial in support of Lutz's release.
Pepple carefully explored risks to the community, to Lutz and his
family should the release be granted, including the Lutz's upcoming divorce hearing.
"I'm looking at possible trigger mechanisms. I also caution it is
not unusual for those with a bipolar condition to talk themselves out of taking their
medication," Pepple said
Lutz himself assured the court of compliance, and King noted Lutz's
appointment with Lima psychologist Arlette Evans for Monday.
Trial date for the second-degree charge of aggravated arson is set for
March 19 in Wapakoneta. If convicted, Lutz could face a maximum eight years in prison and
a $15,000 fine.
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