A Middletown man accused of starting a fire on New Year’s Day at the former Middletown Paperboard warehouse has a new attorney and has changed his plea.
Joshua Lamb, 35, who is charged with arson and aggravated arson for allegedly starting the fire at 300 S. Verity Parkway that burned for days, was in Butler County Common Pleas Court last week with attorney Ramona Daniels, who entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on his behalf.
He remains in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond.
Lamb’s first court-appointed attorney, Robert Qucsai III, entered not guilty pleas to the charges and requested Judge Charles Pater release Lamb so he could work.
Qucsai had said Lamb would be living at Hope House and had a job lined up. In addition, the attorney said Lamb would go to treatment.
But Pater noted a pre-trial services officer indicated that Hope House directors said Lamb would not be permitted to return because of the pending charges.
The judge ruled the bond would remain the same, noting the seriousness of the charges and Lamb’s lack of a permanent address.
In a letter written by Lamb to the judge on June 1, he said his attorney “quit” and he was appointed another but had had no luck in reaching the new attorney.
Lamb was back in court on June 16 with Daniels, where the insanity plea was entered. Pater ordered Lamb to undergo a forensic psychological evaluation. He is scheduled to be back in court for a hearing on the results July 28.
During a preliminary hearing in January, Middletown Detective Steve Winters said Lamb, who is homeless, told him he started the fire. When he walked away to get more wood, his bedding caught fire and he fled the scene in the early morning on New Year’s Day.
The fire at the abandoned building burned for days and is estimated to cost the city more than $130,000 in demolition costs and firefighter overtime. The 11-acre site of 61 parcels had an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 square feet of space.
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