Mother testifies in defense of man accused of setting deadly house fire

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Today a double murder suspect’s mother took the stand in his defense, giving jurors a glimpse into his home life and mental illness.

Casey Hatch is accused of setting fire to a Lake Charles home in 2020, killing Marie Bourque and her 12-year-old daughter, Ski Smith.

A mother and her daughter died in a house fire on Dobbertine Road in 2020. Marie Bourque, 39,...
A mother and her daughter died in a house fire on Dobbertine Road in 2020. Marie Bourque, 39, and her daughter, Ski Smith, 12, both died of smoke inhalation.(Family)

Hatch has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and much of his mother’s testimony focused on his mental health.

Lydia Hatch said Casey was never violent, but he acted differently when he was not taking his medication. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and various other issues.

Lydia told the court about one episode when they went to a restaurant, saying her son became paranoid and upset because their receipt had the same number as their address, and he believed he was being followed.

Lydia talked about times when Casey would run into the woods and stay there for weeks. When asked if Casey told her he lit the fire, his mother responded that she believed he did it to kill himself.

Two mental health experts testified last week that Hatch was sane at the time of the fatal fire and that he could distinguish between right and wrong.

Psychiatrist Dr. Patrick Hayes, who treated Hatch, said their opinion is consistent with what he knows about Hatch. Hayes said just because someone has a mental illness does not mean he cannot tell right from wrong.

Earlier, Judge Robert Wyatt questioned Hatch to make sure he understands that it is his decision whether to take the stand in his own defense. Hatch said he does, but he has not yet told the court his decision.

Closing arguments will likely be Wednesday.