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Man found incompetent for trial in church fire case

ASHLAND, Wis. (AP) — A judge has found an Ohio man incompetent to stand trial on charges he burned down a Baptist church in northern Wisconsin.

Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Valente of Cincinnati was ordered Thursday to undergo treatment in a state mental hospital for three months.

The Daily Press reports Judge Robert Eaton said that Valente’s delusional worldview made it impossible for his attorney to mount an adequate defense.

Valente is charged with arson of a building without the owner’s consent as a hate crime and criminal damage to religious property.

The fire on Oct. 31 destroyed the Salem Baptist Church in Ashland.

The judge ordered that Valente accept medication while at the hospital. A status conference is set for April 11.

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