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Aggravated arson suspect deemed competent to stand trial; sanity still in question 

| March 7, 2022

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 7, 2022) – The suspect in a fiery domestic incident at a home in Oxford Township will be undergoing a second sanity evaluation.

41-year-old Ralph Hutzel’s public defender requested it during a hearing in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Monday morning, disputing a forensic psychologist’s opinion that Hutzel was legally sane when he allegedly assaulted and poured gasoline on a woman and ignited a shed.

Judge Michael Ernest granted the request after declaring Hutzel competent to stand trial based on the same psychologist’s findings in another portion of the assessment.

“And it says, ‘Pursuant to section 2945.371(H)(3) of the ORC, it is my opinion that the defendant is currently capable of understanding the nature and objective of legal proceedings against him and assisting counsel in his own defense.’”

The incident took place on September 21st at a home on Dunlap Creek Southwest. Hutzel previously pleaded not guilty to counts of aggravated arson, attempted aggravated arson, and domestic violence and remains in the county jail on a half-million-dollar bond. 


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