Forced medication recommended for Danish suspect in wildfire

Aug 23, 2021, 3:49 PM | Updated: 4:41 pm
FILE - This undated file photo released by the Costilla County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Jespe...

FILE - This undated file photo released by the Costilla County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Jesper Joergensen. A psychiatrist has recommended that the mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a Colorado wildfire that burned 149 homes should be forcibly medicated, which could pave the way to him being able to stand trial over three years later. The finding of the doctor at the state mental hospital was revealed Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, during a court hearing for Joergensen. (Costilla County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Costilla County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

DENVER (AP) — A psychiatrist has recommended that a mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a wildfire that burned 149 homes should be forcibly medicated, which could pave the way to him being able to stand trial over three years later.

The finding of the doctor at the state mental hospital, revealed Monday during a court hearing but not discussed in any detail, still must be approved by a judge before any medication can be given to Jesper Joergensen, who has been repeatedly found unable go on trial after being diagnosed with delusional disorder following the 2018 Spring Creek Fire. It burned more than 156 square miles (404 square kilometers) about 205 miles (330 kilometers) south of Denver. Joergensen’s lawyers have said he has refused to take medication to treat his condition because his delusions make him believe he is well and does not need them.

The psychiatrist’s report, which contains medical information about Joergensen, is not available to the public but has been made available to prosecutors and his lawyers.

According to previous court filings, Joergensen has falsely claimed to have had a romantic relationship with the singer Alanis Morissette and that various people associated with her have set him up.

The case has been slowed by many delays. Joergensen was only moved to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, which has struggled for years to keep up with demand for the evaluations of people accused of crimes, in June because admissions were slowed even more by the pandemic. Then, when he arrived, the only doctor on staff at the time qualified to conduct a forced medication evaluation was injured and unable to work.

Earlier this year, Judge Gregory Lyman appeared close to dismissing the charges against Joergensen, with the expectation that he would be deported to Denmark for having an expired visa. That approach, suggested by Joergensen’s lawyers, seemed like an option because a psychiatrist at a jail where he was previously held said he did not think Joergensen would qualify for forcible medication once admitted to CMHIP because he did not appear to pose a risk to himself or others. However, in February, the prosecution told Lyman that federal immigration officials would not deport Joergensen because of the new Biden administration’s changes to immigration policy. That led Lyman to then order that Joergensen be taken to the mental hospital.

Another judge in Pueblo will hold a hearing on the request to forcibly medicate Joergensen at the mental hospital, Aaron Pratt of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office said during Monday’s hearing.

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              FILE - This undated file photo released by the Costilla County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Jesper Joergensen. A psychiatrist has recommended that the mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a Colorado wildfire that burned 149 homes should be forcibly medicated, which could pave the way to him being able to stand trial over three years later. The finding of the doctor at the state mental hospital was revealed Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, during a court hearing for Joergensen. (Costilla County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
            
              FILE - This undated file photo released by the Costilla County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Jesper Joergensen. A psychiatrist has recommended that the mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a Colorado wildfire that burned 149 homes should be forcibly medicated, which could pave the way to him being able to stand trial over three years later. The finding of the doctor at the state mental hospital was revealed Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, during a court hearing for Joergensen. (Costilla County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

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Forced medication recommended for Danish suspect in wildfire