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Alleged arsonist found unfit to stand trial

An image of the Knox County courthouse in Galesburg.
The Knox County courthouse, 200 S. Cherry St., Galesburg.

A Galesburg man charged with felony murder and aggravated arson for allegedly setting a fire that killed 60-year-old Katrina Hainline has been found unfit to stand trial.

Donald Denniston, now 39, is charged with intentionally setting fire to a home at 261 Pine Street in the early morning hours of Feb. 14.

In addition to killing Hainline, the fire also seriously injured a 50-year-old man.

Denniston was seen on surveillance video at a nearby gas station purchasing a container and fuel. Video also showed Denniston walking on to the porch of the home with the container, then leaving shortly before the fire broke out.

At a hearing Friday in Knox County court, 9th Circuit Judge Raymond Cavanaugh found Denniston was unable to understanding proceedings or assist in his defense due to serious mental illness.

The decision was based on reports from psychologists who reviewed police reports, spoke with jail personnel and attempted to interview Denniston.

Before the ruling, Denniston was removed from the courtroom for making threats against the judge and Knox County State’s Attorney Jeremy Karlin.

Karlin said Denniston will receive treatment in a mental health facility and return to Knox County for prosecution once he regains fitness.