York judge: Accused arsonist not competent to stand trial

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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A northern York County man accused of starting a fire in his neighbor's garage in 2018 has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Travis Curtis Hake, 34, who at the time was living in the 1900 block of Baltimore Pike in Washington Township, remains charged with felony counts of arson, aggravated assault, burglary, reckless burning, criminal trespass and possessing explosive or incendiary material, plus lesser companion charges, according to court records.

He also remains charged in a second related case with the misdemeanors of stalking and defiant trespass, records state.

On Thursday, presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder ruled that Hake is not competent to stand trial, according to court records.

Hake's attorney, public defender Eric Wayne White, did not return a message seeking comment.

Senior deputy prosecutor Dave Maisch said he cannot discuss many specifics of the case.

"The case has been continued by the court for a period of 60 days," he told The York Dispatch. "The reason for the continuance will be revisited (then)."

Mental evaluation? Several docket entries in Hake's public online court file are marked as being sealed, so it's not clear that Hake underwent a psychiatric evaluation. However, York County judges generally require such an evaluation before determining a defendant's mental competence.

Snyder impounded the arson case file in December 2018, court records state, making it inaccessible to the public.

Maisch was willing to answer general procedural questions, including what happens when a defendant is deemed incompetent to stand trial.

"The first step is to try to bring back their competency," he said. "If efforts are going to be made to have a defendant regain competency, they are usually provided with (mental-health) services. And many times that is at Torrance (State Hospital)."

Torrance State Hospital provides inpatient treatment for people with severe mental illnesses.

Travis Hake

The allegations: State police have accused Hake of breaking into his neighbor's garage and deliberately starting a fire there about 5:20 p.m. Oct. 27, 2018.

The homeowner heard glass breaking in her garage and what sounded like a man arguing, police said, so she grabbed her 1-year-old son and headed to the home of another neighbor, police said.

As she left, she saw curtains on a garage window burning, according to police.

The homeowner called 911 from the neighboring home, police said.

Police said one of her garage windows was broken, as was a window of a truck parked inside the garage. Her mailbox also was damaged.

The homeowner told police she and her husband had watched Hake walk up and down the street, at one point stopping and staring in the direction of their home, court documents state.

Another person told investigators they had seen Hake hit the homeowner's mailbox with what appeared to be a sword before walking up the homeowner's driveway, documents allege.

Hake was seen drinking a beer on the homeowner's porch on Oct. 30, 2018, three days after the garage fire, police said.

Responding officers found Hake drinking a beer while sitting on the porch of yet another neighbor and asked him what he was doing, to which he responded, "trying to make friends with the neighborhood," court documents state.

Hake remains in custody, currently at York County Prison.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.