Judge: Arson suspect is competent for trial

A man charged with setting a fire in a downtown Winchester apartment building is competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Thursday.

Billy Joe Ross, 60, was charged with first-degree arson June 1, 2017, following the fire at 40 N. Main St.

According to court records, Ross had a competency hearing Thursday morning in Clark Circuit Court in which Dr. Timothy Allen form the Kentucky Correctional and Psychiatric Center testified. Clark Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue noted on the docket that Ross was competent to stand trial and scheduled a pre-trial conference on Sept. 20.

Competency hearings are generally closed court proceedings.

Police believe Ross was staying in a second-floor apartment with another person when he started the fire. Ross told detectives he set the fire so people would stop stealing from him. Police said Ross was standing outside the building when officers arrived, and another witnesses confirmed Ross’ account.

The fire was contained to the second floor of the building, though it was encroaching on the third. Winchester Fire-EMS firefighters rescued three people from a third-story window. Four people were treated for smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

Ross is being held in the Clark County Detention Center on a $100,000 cash bond.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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