Quincy man charged with setting fire to apartment complex in December could plead insanity defense

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Joseph Lindsay | Photo courtesy of Adams County Jail

QUINCY — The attorney for a Quincy man, believed to have set fire to the apartment complex in which he was living, filed a motion for an affirmative defense on Wednesday.

Public Defender John Citro filed the motion Wednesday morning in the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office on behalf of Joseph Lindsay, 25. Lindsay and Citro appeared in Adams County Circuit Court for a status hearing on Wednesday afternoon before Judge Charles H.W. Burch.

Lindsay has been charged with aggravated arson while knowing people were present, a Class X felony. If he is found guilty by a jury, he could serve between six and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In an affirmative defense, the defendant introduces evidence which, if found to be credible, will negate criminal liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts. The party raising the affirmative defense has the burden of proof on establishing that it applies.

Citro’s one-sentence motion said, “The defendant, Joseph Lindsay, may utilize the affirmative defense of insanity in (his) case.”

Just after 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 5, officers with the Quincy Police Department, along with the Quincy Fire Department and Adams County Ambulance Service, responded to the report of a structure fire at 718 Kentucky. When officers arrived, they discovered a five-apartment dwelling was on fire. Officers evacuated the residents from the building, and the fire was extinguished. No immediate injuries from the fire were reported.

Lindsay, one of the residents of the dwelling, was not at the scene at the time of the fire but was believed to be a suspect. He was arrested Dec. 12. He remains lodged in the Adams County Jail.

During Wednesday’s status hearing, Citro informed Burch he filed a second motion in the morning to obtain funds so he could hire an expert to assist in the presentation of a defense. Citro said Lindsay is indigent and cannot afford to pay for an expert.

“When a defendant has made a preliminary showing that his sanity at the time of the offense is likely to be a significant factor at trial, the Constitution requires that the state provide access to a psychiatrist’s assistance on this issue if the defendant cannot otherwise afford one,” Citro’s motion said.

When Burch asked how to proceed, Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck said Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones was handling the case, and he could not attend Wednesday’s hearing. She asked for a two-week continuance.

Lindsay will return to court for a scheduling conference on May 1.

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