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Forced medication approved for 2018 Spring Fire suspect, lawyers say

Thursday marks 1-year anniversary since start of Spring Fire
Spring Fire arson suspect’s case will go to trial
Posted at 1:28 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 15:28:29-04

DENVER (AP) — A judge has approved the forced medication of a mentally ill Danish man accused of starting the Spring Fire, which burned 149 homes in Colorado in 2018.

The development was revealed during a court hearing Wednesday for Jesper Joergensen.

Joergensen, a Denmark native, was arrestedon July 7, 2018 and was charged on July 12 with 141 felony arson charges in connection to the Spring Fire. The wildfire grew to more than 108,000 acres in southern Colorado near Fort Garland and La Veta.

He had told authorities he had built a fire pit that got out of control. According to an arrest affidavit, Joergensen had burn marks on him when deputies first found him and changed his story several times when talking with authorities.

After the judge approved the forced medication, one of Joergensen's lawyers said the defense wasn't given notice of the separate proceeding in which the forced medication was approved.

She said she planned to appeal the order.

Joergensen has repeatedly been found incompetent to go on trial for allegedly starting the Spring Creek Fire after being diagnosed with delusional disorder. In February, Joergensen's lawyer, Jane Fisher-Byrialsen, said this makes him refuse to take medication. At the time, prosecutors said they wanted to look into the possibility of doing an evaluation in jail or possibly forcing him to take medication.

A doctor at the state mental hospital recently recommended he be forcibly medicated.

At the time, the Spring Fire was the second-largest single (non-complex) fire in Colorado history. After the 2020 wildfire season, it was bumped down to the fifth-largest wildfire in Colorado history.