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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Man who allegedly lit condo on fire to rid building of ‘evil spirits’ could have charges dismissed

    A man who allegedly lit a condo complex on fire in Bristol in 2022 with two other people in the building has been granted a program that will allow him to avoid prosecution.

    Irving Mote was granted the Supervised Diversionary Program during a hearing Tuesday in New Britain Superior Court after Judge Maureen Keegan made a finding that he suffered from an undiagnosed mental health issue when he started a fire at a Robertson Street condo complex on Sept. 22, 2022. Mote told investigators he started the blaze to rid the building of evil spirits, according to the arrest warrant affidavit in the case.

    Mote was 25 years old when he was arrested by members of the Bristol Police Department last June and charged with first-degree arson of an occupied building, first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief.

    Mote’s attorney, Frank Canace, said during the hearing that prosecutors agreed to lessen the arson charge to that of the third degree to allow for the use of the program.

    “He wants to help himself. He wants to get better,” Canace said, adding that his client was undergoing an “episode” at the time of the allegations.

    “This case is one of the most appropriate for the Supervised Diversionary Program,” Keegan said, imposing the program for a maximum two-year period.

    Keegan encouraged Mote to work with clinicians on his mental health issues, as success in the program would lead to the case being dismissed on March 24, 2026.

    “The voices do not help, as you know,” she told him.

    According to the warrant affidavit, Mote called police just before 2:30 p.m. and requested an ambulance at his condo, saying he “just wanted to go somewhere” because “his identity had been stolen.” He later told officers he felt a ghost after previously walking to Southington and back, describing it as a “supernatural force” that tried taking his personal belongings, police wrote in the warrant affidavit.

    As police were on the scene, an officer heard what sounded like a fire alarm and entered the condo building, finding heavy black smoke in Mote’s unit, according to the warrant affidavit. Police quickly evacuated two people, ages 67 and 50, from the other condo units in the building.

    No one was injured, police noted.

    Members of the Bristol Fire Department who responded found that the fire was started in the basement where Mote resided, the warrant affidavit said. The cause of the fire was ruled arson.

    According to the warrant affidavit, Mote allegedly admitted to starting a fire in the basement after feeling a “presence of evil spirits around him,” wanting to “get rid of them.” He said praying wasn’t working and he remembered reading that sometimes “you have to burn evil spirits away,” the warrant affidavit said.

    Mote also told police he watched himself start the fire in the third person, as he had “disassociated himself,” according to the warrant affidavit.

    Multiple neighbors told authorities they saw Mote a day before the condo fire lighting a piece of fabric or jacket on fire in the street.

    His family told officers Mote believed there were demons in the jacket, so he burned it, according to the warrant affidavit.

    Mote’s family said they tried to get him help for mental health issues but that he would check himself out of the hospital whenever they did, the warrant affidavit said.

    The insurance company that covers the condominium association estimated that the blaze caused about $230,000 in damages.

    Canace on Tuesday said the insurance battle is the subject of a civil matter that will be handled separately from the criminal proceedings.

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