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SD Church Fire, 1st Ld

EL CAJON (CNS) - A man accused of setting fire to a Greek Orthodox church in Rancho San Diego pleaded not guilty today to charges of arson, vandalism of a church and burglary.

Darin Wayne Williams -- held of $250,000 bail -- faces six years and eight months in prison if convicted.

Williams, 38, was arrested late Sunday morning, within hours of a fire that caused about $250,000 in damage at Saint Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church.


No one was hurt in the 4 a.m. fire at 1966 Maryann Way, on the corner of Jamacha Road.

Investigators from the sheriff's Bomb/Arson Unit and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were summoned, and Williams was arrested less than 10 hours after the fire.

The Rev. Simeon Corona, a Greek Orthodox priest, told U-T San Diego that Williams has been in psychiatric hospitals and was recently released.

Williams had been renting a room from a parishioner and allegedly became upset after he was told he could no longer stay there unless he took his medication, according to the newspaper.

The defendant will be back in court Feb. 7 for a readiness conference and Feb. 14 for a preliminary hearing.