Accused Arsonist in Court— (WXOW)

SSRI Ed note: Man, 22, takes antidepressant and drinks, sets a building on fire, faces up to 52 years in jail. He blames mental illness.

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La Crosse

May 10, 2005

The man accused of setting fire to a La Crosse club last week says a mental disease caused him to do it.  22-year-old Stephen Phalen faces three felonies, including charges of arson and reckless endangerment.  According to police reports, Phalen admitted to setting four separate fires at Club Millennium along Third Street.  Phalen told investigators he suffers from depression and a bi-polar disorder.  He said he “felt relieved” when he started the fires.  He also told an officer that he’d been drinking and he’s not supposed to when he’s on medicine.  The bar was undergoing renovations and was closed at the time of the fire.  A judge set bond at 25-thousand dollars.  If convicted, Phalen could face up to 52-years in prison.  He’ll be back in court next week.