Judge orders mental evaluation, increases bond for woman suspected of setting church fire

Published 6:04 am Thursday, October 7, 2021

A judge ordered a mental evaluation and increased bond Wednesday for a woman charged with setting fires that did $25,000 in damage to a prominent Baptist church in the capital.

Montgomery County District Judge Monet M. Gaines increased bond fivefold to $150,000 for Xiaoquin Yan, 27. The judge also ordered treatment if the mental assessment uncovers a problem.

Gaines ruled after prosecutors argued that Yan, charged with setting fires at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, was a Chinese citizen who is in the United States illegally after overstaying a revoked student visa. Originally held on $30,000 bail, Yan has “strong ties of an overseas country,” and additional bond was needed to guarantee her appearance in court, prosecutors said.

Yan, who had addresses in Auburn and Montgomery, was charged with second-degree arson after someone set fires in multiple locations in the church last Friday, a report said. Yan fit the description of a person shown on video starting the fires, according to a sworn statement by an investigator.

Court records don’t include the name of a defense lawyer who could speak on Yan’s behalf.

No one was inside the church building, which is more than 100 years old, and no injuries were reported. Gov. Kay Ivey is among the members of the church.