SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Outbursts in court by the suspect accused of starting the Holy Fire have prompted a judge to suspend criminal proceedings while he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation.
Arraignment for Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, had already been rescheduled twice after he initially refused to leave his jail cell, then made several outbursts in court last week.
Clark was arrested in connection with the wildfire burning still in the Cleveland National Forest. It is now 85 percent contained after scorching nearly 23,000 acres since it first broke out on Aug. 6.
The mental evaluation ordered by the judge in Friday’s hearing is not the first time Clark’s competency was questioned. He was placed on a psychiatric hold last month, and volunteer Fire Chief Mike Milligan, whose cabin was among the 14 that were destroyed in Holy Jim Canyon, says he and all his neighbors were afraid of Clark.
He faces several felony counts of arson, and two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest.
CBS2’s Michele Gile was in the courtroom when the judge tried speaking to the accused.
She reported that “it was another day of rambling and bizarre courtroom behavior.”
While the judge tried to to Clark about the serious charges against him, he instead fixated on a red tie that a man was wearing a few feet away. The man had two knots in his tie and Clark wondered if he was related to the Windsor family.
Clark paced back-and-forth, mouthed unintelligible words to courtroom spectators and held up a note from a jailhouse visitor.
Gile reported that Clark’s arms and legs were shackled but he still managed to hop up on a bench and stand until a bailiff ordered him to jump down.
Clark said he wanted the proceedings recorded because “That’s my live energy that is being transmitted and as a secured party creditor, i transmit live energy. I’m a Pacific utility.”
Judge Kimberly J. Menninger wants two doctors to examine Clark.
His next hearing has been set for Oct. 10.