BUFFALO (WKBW) The man suspected of setting fire to the Target store in Amherst last summer was back in court on Friday over the issue of his mental state. 64-year-old William Lattin is charged with second degree arson for setting allegedly setting a fire inside Target in August.
Lattin and his attorney appeared in Erie County Court Friday morning for a pre-trial conference that centered around his mental health. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found that Lattin was not competent enough to continue court proceedings, but two psychiatrists hired by the County believe that he is.
Lattin himself spoke out in court, attempting to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, something his defense attorney says he cannot do.
The 64 year old is being held in the Erie County Holding Center and is being medicated according to his attorney. He faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty, but his lawyer believes the case should never go to trial.
"He has to my understanding a very long psychiatric history of very serious mental health issues, schizophrenia, and it could be well documented and well established. Anyone who spends any time in the presence of Mr. William Lattin becomes abundantly clear to them that this gentleman is just very very ill," defense attorney Robert Cutting said.
Cutting says it is like speaking a different language when trying to communicate with his client.
The fire at the Target off of Niagara Falls Boulevard caused up to one-million-dollars in damage.
This case will now move to a competency hearing to determine if Lattin should stand trial and face jail-time or be placed in a mental hospital. That hearing is scheduled for mid May.