A Rock Island man accused of burning down a Rock Island garage in 2016 was found not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday.
Associate Judge Norma Kauzlarich further ruled Felix Sawadogo, 20, will be remanded to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for an indeterminate amount of time.
Sawadogo faced charges of arson and attempted arson in Rock Island County Circuit Court.
Rock Island firefighters were called on Jan. 18, 2016, to the 1600 block of 12th Street where an unattached garage was engulfed in flames. The garage was destroyed. The fire spread to a nearby garage, causing some damage.
Court records allege he tried to set fire to the same garage two days earlier.
On May 7, a brief bench trial was held before Kauzlarich.
Rock Island County Assistant State’s Attorney Heidi Weller and Sawadogo’s attorney, Christine Boudro, each read a series of stipulations into the record that consisted of what each attorney's witnesses would have testified to in court.
The stipulations read into the record by Weller included the account of an eyewitness who said they saw someone attempting to set the garage on fire, who pulled a balled up piece of burning paper from the structure before the fire could take hold.
An officer who responded on Jan. 18, 2016, found the garage heavily on fire and evacuated Sawadogo’s family from its residence, which was close to the garage. He found Sawadogo already outside watching the garage burn.
The officer knew Sawadogo was a suspect in the the Jan. 16, 2016, incident and asked him if he had set the fire. Sawadogo allegedly told the officer it could have been him or anyone.
When he interviewed Sawadogo’s family, the officer learned Sawadogo had been burning things and taking other destructive actions, including cutting power cords on appliances and damaging furniture.
Boudro’s stipulations included the accounts of several state mental health experts who examined Sawadogo in the months after his arrest. They found him several times to be unfit to stand trial.
One of these diagnosed Sawadogo with mental illness of which he began to show signs as a teen and for which he had not been effectively treated. At the time he is accused of setting the fires, the illness would have prevented him from knowing right and wrong.
In February 2016, Sawadogo was found unfit to stand trial and was remanded to the custody of DHS. He was deemed to have regained fitness in May 2016, but was placed in DHS custody for a second time in November 2016.
On Jan. 18, Sawadogo again was found fit enough to participate in the proceedings against him.