Man charged with theft, burglary, reckless burning

A Coupeville man accused of accidentally starting a house fire after previously breaking into a historic home is scheduled for a competency hearing next month, according to court document.

Prosecutors charged Stuart E. Williams in Island County Superior Court May 15 with two counts of burglary in the second degree, reckless burning in the first degree, theft in the third degree and malicious mischief.

According to police reports, a deputy caught Williams leaving the Haller House in Coupeville on May 7. The 1866 house is owned by the nonprofit Historic Whidbey and is in the process of being rehabilitated.

Williams had allegedly broken into the back door of the house, rummaged through tools and other items, and broke an original glass window, court documents indicate.

Early in the morning of May 10, firefighters responded to a house fire on Bayview Road.

An unoccupied house was destroyed in the blaze, but nobody was injured.

Williams admitted he was in the house, which has been an attractive shelter for homeless people in the past, the deputy wrote in his report. He said he had started a fire on the floor with papers to stay warm; he thought he had put out the fire with a blanket when he left, the report states.

On May 13, Williams allegedly burglarized the South Whidbey Commons in Langley. Surveillance video showed him taking food and throwing items around.

On May 21, a judge ordered that Williams undergo a competency evaluation. Court documents indicate he has previously been diagnosed with a mental health disorder but refused to take his medication.

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