Local

Man admits lighting fires at post office

WOODSTOCK – A judge ordered a psychological evaluation Tuesday for a 45-year-old Woodstock man who pleaded guilty, against his attorney’s advice, to attempted aggravated arson at the Woodstock Post Office.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather accepted James H. Durkee’s guilty plea after he indicated that his psychotropic medications did not negatively affect his ability to participate in court. Durkee could be sentenced to between six and 30 years at a hearing Nov. 19. Probation is not an option.

Prosecutors said post office employees noticed smoke Aug. 4 inside the building at 1050 Country Club Road and then discovered multiple fires outside the rear of the building near a gasoline can.

Police found a backpack with prescription medications labeled with Durkee’s name, and Durkee appeared while they were at the scene, Assistant State’s Attorney Dave Johnston said. Durkee claimed his backpack and told police he had been there earlier trying to burn down the building, Johnston said.

Shortly after his arrest, Woodstock police said Durkee was believed to have been drunk and angry at the U.S. government during the incident. As part of an agreement, prosecutors dismissed two lesser felony charges related to the same incident.

When Prather asked in court Tuesday, Durkee indicated he recently had taken his prescription medication for cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as Prozac and Haldol. Then, she ordered that an evaluation on Durkee’s mental competence be prepared along with a standard background report for the sentencing hearing.

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