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Man charged with Bedford Middle School arson to receive further mental health evaluation

Man charged with Bedford Middle School arson to receive further mental health evaluation


BEDFORD — A Bedford man accused of arson from the 2020 fire that destroyed the old Bedford Middle School building will receive a mental health evaluation before his case moves forward, a judge decided Tuesday.

Daniel Jared Flint, 22, also faces a charge of statutory burglary in connection with the Jan. 23, 2020, incident. He was arrested weeks later, after his mother reported to his parole officers he’d told her he started the fire, court documents state.

Firefighters responded to the building at about 3 a.m. and crews from at least four local fire departments spent most of the day working to extinguish it. No one was injured in the blaze.

Investigators found evidence of fire accelerants in different parts of the building, officials said at the time of Flint’s arrest, and motion-activated surveillance cameras captured him entering the building before 2 a.m.

Court documents state Flint used to go to school there, “hated the building and wanted it to burn.”

The building was, and still is, slated to become apartments, although developers have said the fire has forced changes to the original layout plan. Developers broke ground at the site early this year and expect work there to continue well into 2022.

Flint previously was scheduled to enter pleas to his charges in Bedford County Circuit Court on Tuesday, but his attorney, Michael Lonchar, instead requested leave to hire a mental health expert to evaluate his client, taking Flint’s autism diagnosis into account for the case.

A forensic examiner evaluated Flint last year and found him competent to stand trial, but under new Virginia laws, evidence speaking to his mental health at the time of the alleged offenses can be submitted for consideration in the case.

Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said after the hearing that Flint’s diagnosis and the evaluation report could have impacts on how the court and his office move forward in Flint’s case.

Lonchar declined to comment.

Flint remains in the Bedford County Adult Detention Center and is next scheduled for a status review hearing on the evaluation report Sept. 7.

- Rachel Mahoney

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