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Pottersville church suspect an insane arson?

POTTERSVILLE The man accused of burning down a Pottersville church in May of 2006 may use the insanity plea in his case.

Caleb Lussier, 21, of Massachusetts, faces a 10-count indictment in the fire that destroyed Christ Church Episcopal. He is not only charged with arson, but burglary for stealing from the church prior to the fire. He is facing charges in Massachusetts as well in a fire that heavily damaged a Plymouth church.

Lussier was a student at the Word of Life Bible Institute and he told police that religious differences caused him to start the fire. The charges he faces have been enhanced due to hate crime laws and he has turned down a plea bargain that would require him to serve 18 years in state prison and 5 years on parole.

Lussier is represented by John Wappet, of the Warren County Public Defenders Office. Wappett has filed the paperwork for a psychiatric defense, but wouldnt say any more. This notice is required if a defendant plans to argue mental illness that would preclude them from having the intent to commit the crime.

Warren County Judge John Hall has scheduled pre-trial hearings for Sept. 27 with the trial to start on Oct. 25. Lussier could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Sheriffs department investigators have indicated that Lussier said he has a non-cancerous brain tumor that affects his behavior. If he uses an insanity defense, he could be find guilty by reason of insanity. That way he would be confined in a mental institution indefinitely instead of serving jail time. He is currently being held in Warren County Jail for lack of bail.

The small congregation of the church has been meeting in a tent as the slow process of rebuilding begins.

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