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Offbeat Holy Fire suspect Forrest Clark arraignment delayed for second time following bizarre court appearance

03:15  11 august  2018
03:15  11 august  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Holy Fire suspect Forrest Clark arraignment delayed for second time following bizarre court appearance . Forrest Gordon Clark , the man accused of starting the Holy Fir, appeared in court for the first time Friday morning in Santa Ana.

Forrest Gordon Clark , 51, is charged with arson and other crimes in connection with the Holy Fire . A court commissioner postponed Clark 's arraignment until Aug. 17. When the commissioner ordered bail to remain at million, Clark shouted that he could easily afford it.

a fire truck is parked on the side of a road: A plane drops fire retardant behind homes along McVicker Canyon Park Road in Lake Elsinore, Calif., as the Holy Fire burned near homes on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP) © Mark Rightmire, AP A plane drops fire retardant behind homes along McVicker Canyon Park Road in Lake Elsinore, Calif., as the Holy Fire burned near homes on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP)

SANTA ANA, California — The man accused of starting the Holy Fire about 50 miles southwest of Los Angeles, appeared Friday in court for the first time.

But instead of a normal arraignment where a defendant is informed of the charges and declares either a guilty or non-guilty plea, a bizarre exchange unfolded, ending with a second delay in the charging process for Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, of Trabuco Canyon, California.

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The arraignment of the man accused of starting a massive wildfire in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest was delayed for a second time after he had several outbursts in court Friday. A day after refusing to leave his jail cell for his first scheduled court appearance , 52-year-old Forrest .

Fire chief: Suspect in Holy Fire that put 20,000 under evacuation order texted, 'The place is going to burn'. Forrest Gordon Clark , 51, is charged with two counts of arson and other crimes. He is being held on million bail and was expected to make a court appearance Thursday.

Commissioner Vickie Lynn Hix of Orange County Superior Court explained to Clark that he was facing three arson charges — aggravated arson, arson of inhabited property and arson of forest — along with one criminal threat charge and two counts of resisting arrest Clark lashed out.

"It's a lie!" he interjected from behind a chain link fence in the courtroom. 

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“These are just allegations, sir,” Hix replied.

“Correct,” Clark said.

a person posing for the camera: Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, of Trabuco Canyon, California, was arrested Aug. 7, 2018, and accused of setting the Holy Fire the previous day. © Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, of Trabuco Canyon, California, was arrested Aug. 7, 2018, and accused of setting the Holy Fire the previous day.

Clark's lawyers appeared to try to calm the suspect. Hix then asked if they would prefer to delay the arraignment.

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The Holy Fire has burned 9,614 acres in the Cleveland National Forest . Forrest Clark is suspected of starting the fire Monday and faces arson charges. An arraignment for Forrest Gordon Clark , 51, was canceled on Thursday but was scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. Among the charges he faces are

Forrest Gordon Clark , 51, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of felony arson and making a threat to terrorize in connection with the ignition of the Holy fire . Arson suspect in 18,000-acre Holy fire makes brief court appearance ; arraignment is postponed.

Both the defense and prosecutors agreed to reset the arraignment for next week, Aug. 17.

When Hix asked Clark if he understood the arraignment was being delayed he answered: “I comprehend. I do not understand. Though, I will say 'yay’ at this time.”

When Hix explained that the bail would be set at $1 million, Clark again shouted, saying he wanted to pay the full bail immediately. 

"I can have a million right now, easily," he shouted at the commissioner before she abruptly ended the arraignment. Clark was led out of the courtroom shortly after.

The proceedings lasted about 2 minutes.

Clark originally was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday but reportedly refused to leave his cell. Members of the press were not allowed inside the courtroom though they did view the proceedings on TV screens in a viewing area.

Hix denied a defense request to prohibit video recording of the proceedings.

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The arraignment for Forrest Clark was supposed to be Thursday, but the judge in the case said the suspect refused to go to court . Clark is charged with setting the Holy Fire , which has burned 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) in the Cleveland National Forest since it began Monday.

The arraignment for Forrest Clark was supposed to be Thursday, but the judge in the case said the suspect refused to go to court . Now Playing: Suspect arrested as Holy Fire increases to 4,129 acres.

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The Holy Fire, named for the canyon where it started, was discovered around 1:30 p.m. PT Monday in Cleveland National Forest about 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and has burned almost 30 square miles so far, a larger footprint than New York City's Manhattan borough.

Clark was arrested Tuesday. 

Clark, who lives less than 5 miles from the place that arson investigators pinpointed as the Holy Fire's birthplace, has a history of legal and financial troubles. Aside from a pair of collections cases with credit-card companies, Clark was a defendant in a civil breach of contract case for defrauding an employer of about $85,000.

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The arraignment for Forrest Clark was supposed to be Thursday, but the judge in the case said the suspect refused to go to court . Holy Fire Suspect Forrest Gordon Clark (Orange County Sheriff’s Department).

Forrest Gordon Clark , 51, is accused of threatening firefighting officials in an email last week, saying “this place will burn,” CNN reports. An arrest has been made in relation to the Holy Fire .

He and co-workers were paid for landscaping work that Clark's company allegedly never completed. The case ended with an order for Clark's company to repay the $85,000.

Clark also had strained family relationships. In 2012, Clark’s mother filed a restraining order against him for elder abuse, and his brother filed a restraining order against him for verbal abuse and property destruction. 

Christian Martinez reports for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star; Christopher Damien reports for the (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun. Follow Martinez and Damien on Twitter: @ChristianM_CA and @chris_a_damien

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Arson suspect in California Holy Fire ordered to have mental evaluation after outbursts in court .
Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered a mental evaluation for Forrest Gordon Clark after deciding to suspend criminal proceedings. Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered the evaluation after the arraignment for Forrest Gordon Clark was suspended twice due to him having several outbursts.

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