PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A man accused of starting a fire that destroyed several buildings in Homestead had a preliminary hearing postponed Wednesday afternoon.
After months of mental health treatment and evaluation, Edward McDonald was in a courtroom for the first time in nearly nine months.
He was not as talkative today as he was when he was arrested for setting a fire that took out half a block of Homestead’s business district on Eighth Avenue back in January that displaced tenants and sent two people to the hospital.
When asked if he did it, this is what McDonald said then:
“Yeah I guess I did.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t know what the day was . I don’t know what is today?”
McDonald told neighbors in the days leading up to the fire he was depressed, was hearing voices in his head and was worried about those voices. He told federal agents he was schizophrenic and had not taken his medication in a while.
He lived in the building that burned and told police he doused his couch with lighter fluid.
His neighbors had only the alarms of smoke detectors and other neighbors to alert them of the danger.
Today, though not far from the now-vacant land where the apartment building was, McDonald was in a courtroom for his preliminary hearing on 14 counts of arson related charges and one count of causing or risking catastrophe.
But a delay in assembling all the necessary witnesses delayed his hearing once again. His first preliminary hearing was scheduled for February 4th.
His next scheduled hearing is scheduled in two weeks.