A former Coarsegold resident charged with eight felony counts of arson reappeared in Madera County Superior Court Thursday while three boys involved with the Willow Fire and Sundance Fire appeared in juvenile court in separate hearings.
Michael Lee Lapschies, 40, from Fresno, was brought into the Sierra Divison courtroom of Judge Charles Wieland at Bass Lake to be arraigned for a charge of resisting a police officer.
Lapschies had already been arraigned on eight felony counts of arson, and one felony count of terrorist threats, when he went on an alleged firebug spree throughout Bass Lake Sept. 30.
All the fires were put out, with no major reported damages, and Lapschies was arrested that evening around 8:10 p.m.
Madera County District Attorney David Linn said defense filed a motion to have Lapschies examined psychologically, in order to determine if he will be able to aid in his own defense and stand trial.
Rumors spread throughout social media and the Mountain Area after Lapschies was arrested that he suffered from mental illness.
Lapschies remains in jail, and the case will be continued until 9 a.m. Nov. 12 in Bass Lake court.
In the afternoon, Linn said he appeared in the courtroom of Judge James Oakley on three cases involving the Willow Fire and Sundance Fire, both arson cases from fires allegedly started by teenage boys.
Oakley continued house arrest on all three defendants, Linn said, under electronic monitoring and barred from possessing any flammable materials as originally ordered. The boys can also attend school, but only under supervision of parents to and from the location.
The Willow Fire was allegedly sparked by a local boy who played with a lighter taken from his family toolbox. When the blaze got out of control it scorched 5,702 acres in North Fork before it was put out more than a month after its origin on July 25.
The Sundance Fire grew to 13 acres near Deadwood Mountain south of Oakhurst on Sept. 13 before it was contained. That fire was allegedly started when the two juveniles in court lit spray from aeresol cans ablaze and shot the flames at each other.
Those cases will continue Oct. 28 in Madera County Superior Court.