• Published

A man accused of setting a fire that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a Target store last summer in Amherst is not mentally competent to stand trial, a judge ruled this week.

Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio ordered William Lattin to undergo treatment at a state psychiatric facility until he is found to be competent to stand trial.

Defense attorney Robert J. Cutting said Lattin, who is being held without bail, will be placed in the custody of the state Office of Mental Health, which will determine the most appropriate facility for his client.

He said two county psychologists who examined Lattin last fall and found him competent for trial re-evaluated him and agreed with a defense psychologist who found him not competent.

Lattin, 65, is charged with second-degree arson in the Aug. 15 fire at the store in a plaza off Niagara Falls Boulevard. He is accused of using a lighter to set fire to clothes in men’s department during the afternoon.

The store was evacuated and the fire extinguished in a half-hour with the help of the building’s sprinkler system. Smoke and water caused more than $700,000 in damage.

Lattin was arrested the next day after he returned to the store. Security staff recognized him and called police. Police said he admitted setting the fire.

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