PARIS — A Norway man charged with burning down a boarding house had his bail lowered from $50,000 to $25,000 cash during a hearing Wednesday in 11th District Court.
Todd Fickett, 18, did not enter a plea to the charge of arson during the proceeding. He was given the option of cash bail or $100,000 worth of property. The judge also allowed for a screening with Maine Pretrial Services.
Fickett’s arraignment is set for July 6 at 8:30 a.m.
Fickett is accused of setting a fire early Monday morning that destroyed a 12-unit boarding house on Main Street, leaving about a dozen people homeless. One woman who lived in the building next door is also temporarily out of a home due to damage from the fire and from water hoses.
The hearing was tense, as former tenants of the boarding house at 467 Main St. were standing outside the courthouse as Fickett was escorted into the building. A few went into the courtroom for his hearing.
When a court officer reminded them to turn off their cellphones, one man said he’d lost his in the fire.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne asked for a $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 surety, citing the seriousness of the alleged crime.
“It’s only by the grace of God that no one was hurt by this,” Beauchesne said.
Fickett’s acting attorney, Maurice Porter, argued that Fickett has shown signs of mental health issues in the past and doesn’t appear to be a flight risk. If released, Porter said, Fickett would live with his stepsister in Norway.
Porter pointed out that Fickett cooperated with police.
According to the arrest affidavit, Fickett admitted setting the fire. He told a Fire Marshal’s Office investigator that he lit several books of matches in a trash can to create smoke, but the can tipped and started the blaze.
Paris District Court Judge Paul Cote said the charge was serious considering the number of lives put in danger. He allowed for the possibility of release through Maine Pretrial Services, but only after an evaluation by the state.