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Fire suspect's courtroom outburst prompts judge to order psych evaluation

Darren Denley, 25 (Source: OPSO) Darren Denley, 25 (Source: OPSO)

The man accused of starting Wednesday's massive fire on Canal Street was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after an outburst of bizarre behavior in court.

Darren Denley's arraignment hearing wrapped up late Thursday afternoon after the 25-year-old yelled in the courtroom that he was sleeping at the time of the fire, repeatedly shouted expletives, demanded to take a lie detector test and was escorted out.

"I didn't do it!" Denley yelled. "I know you news people are listening."

Denley pleaded not guilty to charges of improperly burning trash and crossing a police line. Investigators said he burned trash to keep warm, triggering the six-alarm fire that took nearly 100 firefighters eight hours to get under control.

His next court date is set for Feb. 17. Part of the Canal Street sidewalk remains blocked off as inspectors hired by the city determine whether two charred historic buildings can be saved.

Denley will remain in jail until Feb. 17 hearing.

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