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A judge Wednesday scheduled a hearing to determine whether a 37-year-old parolee accused of igniting two fires in Riverside that together caused nearly $2 million in damage should be placed in a mental health program pending the outcome of his case.

George Alexander Hill, an area transient, is charged with two counts of arson resulting in property damage and sentence-enhancing allegations of using an incendiary device, targeting multiple structures in an act of arson and parole violations.

Hill pleaded not guilty during an arraignment on Dec. 30. During a status hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Charles Koosed expressed concerns about the defendant’s psychological state, and conferred with the prosecution and defense about the possibility of placing Hill in a diversion program where he could receive psychiatric care.

Koosed scheduled a hearing for Feb. 23 to determine whether the defendant meets all of the requisite criteria for placement in “pretrial mental health diversion” under Penal Code section 1001.36.

The prosecution and defense would have to consent to the order if Koosed finds it’s valid. It would not void the criminal case pending against Hill, but he could remain in psychological counseling for up to two years, according to the statute.

The Riverside Fire Department said the defendant ignited a blaze that caused an estimated $100,000 damage to a Walmart in the 5200 block of Van Buren Boulevard last Oct. 23.

The blaze was knocked down a short time later and did not cause the store to shut down. No one was hurt.

RFD Arson Investigator Ray Mendoza alleged that on the night of Dec. 18, Hill torched a pile of pallets outside a building, and the fire spread to the structure, where stuffed animals are manufactured.

Firefighters battled the blaze for an hour before gaining the upper hand. No one was injured.

Total damage to the business was estimated to be $1.5 million, according to the fire department.

A possible motive for the alleged offenses was not disclosed.

According to court records, Hill has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of controlled substances.

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