WENATCHEE — The mentally ill man who told deputies he set the devastating Sleepy Hollow Fire said Monday he wishes to enter a guilty plea.
Jeremy J. Kendall, 39, of Wenatchee has been jailed or in institutional care since his arrest in March 2016, when he walked into the Chelan County Sheriff's Office and admitted starting the 2015 fire. In a hearing Monday, Kendall told Superior Court Judge Robert McSeveney he wants to plead guilty, and attorneys in the case said a plea agreement may be near.
The June 28, 2015 Sleepy Hollow Fire destroyed 30 homes, most of them in the Broadview neighborhood in the Wenatchee foothills. Wind blew burning debris from the grassland fire into the Wenatchee Avenue and North Miller Street industrial zone, where fruit warehouses and packaging facilities caught fire and burned to the ground.
The burned area totaled about 2,950 acres. Thursday marks the third anniversary of the fire.
After turning himself in to deputies, Kendall was judged mentally unfit to stand trial. Chelan County judges have ordered him into psychiatric care three times, and even ordered medication to be administered against his will, in hopes of restoring him to competency.
Mental health professionals said that Kendall was suffering from schizophrenia, and believed he was enduring mental attacks from outside forces that were seeking to control his mind.
McSeveney judged Kendall fit to stand trial last week, based on psychologists' latest reports. He scheduled a status hearing in Kendall's case for July 2, and a potential trial date of Aug. 7.
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013