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Man charged with setting fire to Jilly’s restaurant in Pikesville denied bail pending mental competency evaluation

The Pikesville man charged with arson in connection with the fire that destroyed Jilly’s Bar & Grill blocks away from his home has been denied bail pending a mental competency evaluation, a U.S. District Court judge ordered Friday afternoon.

David Michael McDermott, 40, of the first block of Hawthorne Ave., was charged with second-degree arson in connection with the three-alarm blaze that engulfed the Reisterstown Road restaurant.

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On Friday a district judge agreed to a request from the Office of the Public Defender to have McDermott undergo a mental competency evaluation. She also barred him from the restaurant premises as well as from Saint Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church on Church Lane in Pikesville, which Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Moloney said McDermott had broken into and stolen wine.

Competency evaluations determine a defendant’s mental fitness to stand trial by assessing their capacity to understand their alleged offense and subsequent court proceedings.

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McDermott, who faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines if convicted of starting the fire, waived his right to appear at the hearing. He had also waived his right to an attorney at an initial appearance Thursday, according to online court records

The fire that destroyed Jilly’s caused $2 million in damage, according to charging documents, and no injuries were reported.

A preliminary investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office found that someone lit four outdoor heaters aflame before tipping them against a side wall of the restaurant, causing the paneling to catch fire and quickly spread to the rest of the 38-year-old building, according to online property records.

Officers at the scene who knew McDermott saw him walking in the area of the crime scene, police said.

McDermott had been issued a no-trespass order earlier in the week and had “made statements that he would be back,” police said.

The restaurant’s owner, Scott Reich, told police he believed McDermott set the fire in retaliation, after a confrontation over McDermott loitering and trespassing on his property the day before.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ben Leonard contributed to this article.

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