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Buffalo Arson Suspect Has Untreated Mental Illness, According to Her Father

WGRZ reports Myweh Harris, who is accused of setting fire to a house on Buffalo’s East Side, has had prior contact with law enforcement officials. In addition to her current arrest on arson charges for the fire at the Roebling Avenue home, Ms. Harris was arrested in March on charges of drug possession and criminal mischief with an attempt to damage property. She was released on bail for that arrest.

Ms. Harris’s father, Huey Hornsby, told WGRZ his daughter suffers from untreated mental illness.

Barry Covert, a noted criminal defense attorney and senior partner at the Buffalo-based law firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, was asked by WGRZ for his response to comments made by Ms. Harris’s father.

Read more and watch a related video at WGRZ’s website.

Getting help for adults may be difficult

"I have been trying to get help for this young lady for the last year," Mr. Hornsby said. "I'm stressed out about this young lady because she's my daughter. I love her, but I can't do anything to help her because she's an adult." Ms. Harris’s family told WGRZ she has refused medical assistance.

Mr. Covert said, "If the adult does not want to have mental health treatment, it's very difficult to get that treatment and to get some type of crisis intervention to get them evaluated.” He continued, “Two experts have to sign off and say that the adult individual is an immediate threat to themselves or others."

According to her family, this determination has not been made about Ms. Harris.

Will these charges lead to treatment?

Ms. Harris currently faces arson, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment charges for the fire at 87 Roebling Avenue. Four people were inside the home at the time of the fire; no injuries were reported. Damage is valued at $80,000. Ms. Harris is currently being held in custody without bail. She was scheduled for court the morning after her arrest, but officials say she refused to go to court.

WGRZ reports that Harris has appeared before Buffalo City Court Judge Robert Russell in the past. Judge Russell runs a court that has a focus on helping people who are addicted to drugs and dependent on alcohol. It is not clear whether Ms. Harris received any help from the court.

Mr. Hornsby said about his daughter, “I want her to be incarcerated. I want her to get help.”

About Barry Covert

Mr. Covert, a member of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Trials and Appeals Practice Area, focuses his practice primarily in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; constitutional law, including First Amendment, Second Amendment, and civil rights actions; the Qui Tam Act, also known as the False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct, scientific fraud, research misconduct, research fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and the defense of professional licensing, including for attorneys, doctors, and nurses.

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