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SIOUX CITY -- A Woodbury County prosecutor has asked that the state be allowed to complete a psychological examination of a man accused of starting a fatal fire in a Sioux City apartment building.

Assistant Woodbury County Attorney James Loomis filed a motion Tuesday asking a judge to allow a psychiatrist to evaluate Robert Mahoney at the Iowa Medical Classification Center in Coralville.

Public defender Sharese Whitesell filed notice in March that she may use a defense of diminished capacity in the case. Loomis said in his motion that Mahoney has been examined by a mental health expert on behalf of the defense, and the state has the right to have its own independent examination conducted.

Mahoney, 51, of Sioux City, has pleaded not guilty in Woodbury County District Court to first-degree arson and involuntary manslaughter. His trial currently is scheduled to begin next week.

Mahoney is accused of setting the Feb. 4 fire that damaged several units at Central Apartments, 613 11th St., and injured Wanda Blake.

Blake, 51, died Feb. 27 at a Sioux City hospital after spending several days in intensive care before being released to a rehabilitation facility. An Iowa State Medical Examiner's autopsy listed the cause of death as homicide.

According to court documents, Mahoney told police he was bored and started lighting papers on fire inside his apartment using an aerosol can of bug spray and a lighter. Once the initial fire went out, Mahoney told investigators he saturated a table full of papers with bug spray and lit it on fire, court documents said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, smoke was coming out of Mahoney’s apartment and had consumed the first floor of the two-story structure. Nearly two dozen residents of the building were unable to return to their homes immediately because of the fire damage.

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