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Judge Delays Plea in McCormick Arson Case - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Judge Delays Plea in McCormick Arson Case

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A  judge has ordered a Charlottesville man accused of trying to set fire to a University of Virginia building to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Joseph Duva was supposed to be in court to plead guilty in connection with a fire that could have damaged UVA's McCormick Observatory, instead Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins delayed the plea.

Prosecutors say Duva broke a window on the ground level of the McCormick Observatory at UVA on February 22. Investigators found burnt paper - including a charred job application - and matches. Prosecutors say fingerprints on the burnt newspaper linked them to Duva.

Police charged 21-year-old Duva with arson of an unoccupied public building. His attorney and the commonwealth have worked out a deal that would reduce that charge to felony destruction of property.

Tuesday Judge Higgins held off on accepting Duva's plea agreement until a psychological evaluation is reviewed. Higgins reasoned her delay on "a pattern that concerns the court". 

Duva's criminal record includes shooting out windows of cars. Duva was arrested in Charlottesville in March, about two weeks after the observatory fire.  Police say he shot out car windows with a BB gun in the Fry's Spring neighborhood. Court records show Duva was found guilty of destruction of property for the March crimes.

Duva is due back in court November 15 for a review of the psychological evaluation.

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