Expert witnesses say murder suspect was sane when he set fire that killed woman, daughter

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 7:27 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Today jurors heard about the mental health of the man accused of setting a fire that killed a woman and her 12-year-old daughter.

Casey Hatch is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Hatch has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but so far, expert witnesses don’t buy that.

Two expert witnesses, one a psychologist and the other a physician specializing in psychiatry said Hatch was not insane when he set fire to his trailer, resulting in the deaths of Marie Bourque and her daughter, Ski Smith.

While Hatch does have a mental illness, the experts say his conduct did not stem from that, so he was not insane at the time of the deadly fire.

Dr. James Anderson testified he believes Hatch could distinguish between right and wrong, which goes against an insanity defense. Hatch has made numerous contradictory statements, and Anderson said that suggests Hatch was faking psychosis because someone faking cannot remember what they said before.

He said those truly psychotic are more consistent.

The expert witnesses said some of his statements such as, “He didn’t want to be judged,” suggest he did know he did something wrong.

Earlier today, an expert from the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab testified that samples from the scene tested positive for a substance consistent with paint thinner.

Jurors also saw pictures of cans of acetone or paint thinner recovered from the burned house.

One investigator testified that because of singe marks on the hair of Hatch’s right hand, they believe he used that hand to start the fire. In one interview during the investigation, Hatch said he had come to accept he was, in his words, going to be in one of those “insane jails.”

The trial is on a three-day hiatus. It recessed until 9:30 Tuesday morning when it’s likely the state will rest its case.

On Thursday, jurors heard 911 audio and saw body cam footage from the scene of the fire.