GRAYSON A 68-year-old man accused of burning his niece’s front porch in 2018 is set to go to trial March 10.
Larry Harris, of Olive Hill, has undergone psychiatric evaluation for the better part of 2019 in order to determine if he is fit to stand trial. Carter County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca K. Phillips agreed to set the date at the request of both the prosecution and the defense in order to give them time to work on an agreement.
During his time in court, the 5-foot-6 white-haired man accused his public defender of doing nothing.
“The only time I see him is when I walk through the door,” Harris said.
Attorney John P. Thompson told the judge that “wasn’t accurate.”
Harris is accused of setting the porch on fire following a night of drinking and an argument with his brother-in-law.
Court records show on Aug. 12, 2018, Harris called his brother-in-law to ask if he could give him a lift to a doctor’s appointment the following day. When the brother-in-law told Harris he’d only take him if he was sober the next morning, police said Harris cussed him out and hung up.
A Kentucky State Police investigation shows Harris had made threats about burning down his mobile home as well as his niece’s if he were ever kicked out. His sister owns the land and the trailer, court records show.
In the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2018, the niece and her husband smelled smoke in the house, according to state police. They opened up the front door and saw the porch ablaze, records show.
Their 6-year-old daughter was also in the house during the fire, police said.
During the arson investigation, troopers found a burnt piece of paper towel near the scene, according to court records. When a trooper went to interview Harris that morning, state police said he found a red gas can and a similar piece of paper towel on the front porch. The trooper also noticed soot on Harris’ hand, according to the report.
When asked about the soot, Harris told police he burned some trash in his stove the previous night, records show. The trooper wrote he checked the stove and the coals were not hot. During the interview, Harris denied trying to burn down the trailer and said he never made any threats towards his family, records show.
About 20 minutes into the interview, police said Harris told the trooper he “did not recall attempting to burn the home down.” Harris said he was drunk the previous night and did not remember everything that happened, police said. When asked if it was possible he could of set the blaze, records quote Harris as stating: “Yes, I was mad as hell.”
After collecting evidence and speaking with more witnesses, state police obtained an arrest warrant. Harris was arrested without incident at 5:44 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2018.