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Woman accused of setting fires in church competent to stand trial

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 7:09 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

A woman accused of setting fires in a Lake Charles church early last year was found competent Wednesday to proceed with her defense.

Shlanda Brouchet, 35, is charged with simple arson of a religious building. She was found in Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Fellowship Church on Jan. 28, 2012, attempting to light a Bible on fire with a cigarette lighter, according to an offense report.

Brouchet was in a wheelchair in court Tuesday. According to court testimony, she was examined by two psychiatrists. Dr. Garrett Ryder found Brouchet competent. Dr. James Anderson said she “can be restored to competency within a reasonable period of time if she is provided appropriate medical care.” Both entered the opinions in letters submitted to the court.

Anderson said Brouchet was restrained and never opened her eyes during their interview, although she answered his questions in a logical, organized manner.

At about 8:45 a.m. Jan. 28, officers responded to a report of Brouchet making threats while holding a gas can and cigarettes, according to the offense report. When officers arrived at the church after 1:30 p.m. that day, they saw Brouchet through a back window, the report says.

Several fires were lit, including curtains, carpet and a dress, the report says. An officer put them out with an extinguisher. Brouchet told an officer that he was going to burn and that she planned to set more fires once she was released, the report says.

Brouchet had arrived in Lake Charles the day before from North Carolina — where, a family member told officers, she had recently been released from a hospital, the report says.

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