Canton, Ohio, September 1, 2017
The 39-year-old Lake Township, Ohio man who set fire to one Orthodox church on Sunday, and vandalized the cross in front of another, is also accused of shooting at several area businesses. Richard D. Rhodes reportedly has a mental condition that his lawyer says may make him incompetent to stand trial, reports The Alliance Review.
St. Nikolai Orthodox Church in Marlboro Township suffered fire and water damage on Sunday after Rhodes broke in through a window at around 6:00 AM and doused the building in diesel and propane before setting it on fire. At around 8:00 AM the same day he vandalized the handcrafted cross in the yard of nearby St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, removing it from its base with a chainsaw.
St. Nikolai Orthodox Church reported on its Facebook page that Rhodes made a full confession after being taken into custody, saying he vandalized the Orthodox churches because he did not believe they were Christian.
Defense Attorney Bradley Iams asked on Thursday that his client undergo evaluation to determine if he is mentally competent to understand the charges against him and to stand trial. Rhodes’ “mental condition renders him incapable of understanding the nature and objective of the proceedings against him, and or assisting in his defense,” Iams wrote in a court filing. Neither the filing nor the attorney have elaborated on Rhodes’ condition.
Judge Mary Falvey will decide whether to grant the request at a hearing next week.
Uniontown police initially arrested Rhodes at 2:32 AM on Tuesday on charges of felonious assault, improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, discharge of a firearm on or near a prohibited premises and two counts of felony vandalism, stemming from incidents at Hartville Hardware and Plain Township Bureau of Motor Vehicles. They seized a .22-caliber rifle and several stolen business and real estate signs from him. He also faces aggravated arson, arson and breaking and entering charges in Alliance Municipal Court.