Court gavel teaser

KEARNEY — The attorney for a Kearney man accused of setting fire to his house last weekend wants a hearing to determine if the man is competent to stand trial.

The 66-year-old man was charged earlier this week in Buffalo County Court with felony second-degree arson on July 20 at 902 Central Ave. after being contacted an hour after the fire was reported. Deputy Buffalo County Public Defender Lydia Davis filed the motion Tuesday asking for the hearing to determine the man’s mental competency.

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The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.

Court records outline the incident:

At 8:04 p.m. July 20 the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department responded to a structure fire at the address. When the Kearney Police Department arrived witnesses said they saw a green pickup backing out of the driveway to the house when the house was on fire, and believed the man was the driver.

The fire was extinguished, and police contacted the man around 9 p.m. in his pickup at 25th Street and Avenue G. The man said he had lived at the house, records say, but didn’t anymore.

The man said he allegedly lit the fire after hearing voices inside the house. The man had singed hair on his arm, court records say, and a lighter was confiscated from his front pocket.

The man was arrested, and late Friday remained at the Buffalo County Jail on a $15,000 bond. Damage to the house was estimated at $30,000.