Suspect in 2003 Hartford facility blaze may not stand trial

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A woman who is accused of setting a fire that killed 16 residents at a Hartford, CT, nursing home in February 2003 may not face criminal penalties after a state panel determined she cannot be restored to competence to stand trial.

Lesley Andino, 25, will not stand trial for the crime if a Hartford Superior Court judge agrees with the findings of the state panel.

Andino, a multiple sclerosis patient, has been assessed at least three times since her arrest in connection with the fire and was found legally incompetent. According to state law, defendants in criminal cases can only go through a trial if they understand the proceedings and can assist in their defense.

Authorities say Andino, who was a patient at Greenwood Health Center, admitted she started the fire on Feb. 26, 2003 by flicking a cigarette lighter that set her bedding ablaze. She could face life in prison if she were convicted on 16 counts of arson murder.