By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — An arson suspect in an Ottumwa fire has pleaded not guilty.
Christopher Jordan faces charges of arson, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony, using a juvenile to commit an indictable offense and stalking.
He filed a written arraignment this week, which entered a plea of not guilty. Defendants and their attorneys often use written arraignments in lieu of appearing in court for a formal hearing because it accomplishes the legal requirements while avoiding unpredictable events.
Jordan’s trial is set for May 6. If convicted on all counts, he could spend as much as 45 years behind bars.
The arson was one of only a few in Ottumwa in what turned out to be a very busy 2013. Firefighters put out more than 40 structure fires over the course of the year, well above the average.
The final week of the year was a comparatively slow one for local court cases. The only other major development was the withdrawal of Kaz Long as the attorney for Raul Ortega III. Ortega is charged with interference with official acts and carrying dangerous weapons.
Ortega has pleaded not guilty.