SAN LUIS — A 52-year-old illegal immigrant from Denmark who is charged with close to 200 counts of Arson has been declared incompetent and has yet to be admitted to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo (CMHIP).
Crista Newmyer-Olsen, 12th Judicial District attorney, said a hearing for Jesper Jorgensen is required to admit him for restoration and the courts are waiting for CMHIP. Until then the local courts can do nothing with him.
Due to the fact that proceedings against Jorgensen are being presided over by a retired district judge out of Durango, most of the hearings have been by telephone and Newmyer-Olsen said this might be no different.
Almost exactly one year ago, June 28, 2018, he allegedly started the Spring Fire, which destroyed thousands of acres and numerous homes in Costilla and Huerfano counties.
According to Psychology Research and Reference, evaluations of competency to stand trial are the most common source of referrals to forensic mental health practitioners. While the clear majority of those examined are viewed as competent to proceed, those found incompetent to stand trial (IST) may be subjected to treatment and training to enable them to proceed to trial, typically referred to as competency restoration.
These individuals constitute the largest group referred for mental health treatment under the auspices of the criminal justice system, with several thousand persons hospitalized in the United States at any given time. Despite the significant variability in treatment and education efforts, as many as 9 in 10 persons originally found unfit are eventually adjudicated competent and proceed to disposition of the charges against them.
Joergensen appeared irrational at a preliminary hearing when he waved a sheaf of papers and handwritten materials before retired 6th Judicial District Judge Gregory G. Lyman of Durango, presiding after all local court employees were recused due to the fact that some lost homes and cabins in the fire.
Joergensen turned the preliminary hearing into a forum in which to enter his own motions and voice his own opinions. He was bound over for trial on more than 200 charges of felony arson.
Before the fire, he wrote repeatedly on social media about anarchy and hatred of government and Joergensen claimed his attorney wasn’t giving him information on the case and asked the judge for new representation. He also asked for a change of venue and a different judge
On April 23, Joergensen was back in the courtroom for a status update on motions filed by both the defense and prosecution.
In his arrest affidavit, however, Joergensen changed his story on how the fire started multiple times, claiming it was an accident.
Topping the list was the story of how he cooked meat to eat and didn’t watch the burn pit in which the fire was started.
Another explanation of burning trash was also questioned, since he admittedly didn’t ensure the fire was out before going into his RV camper home and falling asleep.
When he awakened, he called to report the fire, which had spread to some bushes next to his place and then tried to quell the flames with towels and a blanket, suffering facial burns and scorched clothing.
Still in the Costilla County Jail, Joergensen reportedly spends his days trying to challenge his arrest. A gag order bars jail staff from communication with him about anything other than his basic needs.
According to ICE, Joergensen is a deportable alien, “admitted to the United States subject to any grounds of removal specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"This includes any alien illegally in the United States, regardless of whether the alien entered the country by fraud or misrepresentation or entered legally but subsequently violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant classification or status.”