Nipomo man found not fit to stand trial for arson

May 8, 2023

A fire led to significant set damage in a courtroom at the Santa Maria Court Complex. A Nipomo man was arrested in connection with the incident.


A judge ruled a Nipomo man who allegedly broke into the Santa Maria courthouse on Feb. 18 and started a fire is not competent to stand trial.

On April 20, a judge ruled 31-year-old Eric Spies was unable to assist in his own defense and as such was not competent to stand trial. The ruling was made after two court-appointed doctors evaluated Spies.

On the night of Feb. 18, Spies went to the Santa Maria court complex allegedly to determine where he would need to appear for his hearing.

A security guard ordered Spies to leave, but instead Spies broke two glass doors at the entrance to the criminal court building and went inside. Spies then forced his way into a courtroom, where he lit the defense attorney’s chair on fire.

The fire spread to a table and carpet inside the courtroom, melted the ceiling lights and triggered the sprinkler system. Water released from sprinklers destroyed computers, audio-visual systems and court files. Damage estimates exceed $700,000.

Spies is due back in court on Thursday for a hearing to determine if he should receive restorative services.

Because of possible conflicts of interest, the case is being heard in San Luis Obispo County.

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What a crock. Anybody if they wish to can feign mental illness and fool even the best of psychologists.

He belongs in prison for awhile. Stupid justice system.