Man ruled OK to stand trial in house fire

Judge's competency order follows review of hospital's report

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Vancouver man accused of setting fire to a house he shared with his former boyfriend is competent to stand trial on a charge of first-degree arson, a judge ordered Thursday.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier made the competency order after reviewing a report by Western State Hospital. The report concluded that Timothy C. Meagher, 57, is competent to stand trial.

His trial is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Court records indicate Meagher was upset that he had to move out after the couple's breakup.

He had recently learned from an attorney that his partner of 17 years, James L. Hansen, 52, would retain ownership of the house. Hansen had owned the house prior to Meagher's moving in, Clark County sheriff's Detective Beth Luvera wrote in a court affidavit.

Court documents claim that Meagher focused on some of Hansen's most treasured possessions when he started four separate fires June 13 in the house at 6208 N.E. Wilding Road in the Sunnyside neighborhood. He poured gasoline on Hansen's favorite recliner and on an heirloom lace tablecloth that had belonged to Hansen's mother, Luvera noted. Another fire was started downstairs in the family room, near the recliner, the documents say.

No injuries were reported. Damage was estimated at about $100,000, according to the sheriff's office.

A neighbor, Tim Robinson, saw Meagher enter the house about 12:45 p.m. About an hour later, he saw smoke wafting from the eaves and called 911.

Meagher was apprehended at a cabin in Cougar owned by his employer. A sheriff's bulletin said Meagher did not have permission to be in the cabin, and a neighbor alerted authorities after noticing a suspicious vehicle parked in front of it.