The arson occurred outside the McDonalds/Chevron at the Great Mall in Milpitas
On July 30, 2014 the Milpitas Fire Department had responded to a car fire at the parking lot of McDonalds located at 1249 Great Mall Drive in Milpitas. According to the reporting MPD Officer, “The fire had destroyed the whole passenger compartment of the vehicle.” The MFD reported using a total of 250 gallons to extinguish the fire.
28-year-old Carissa Jamie Ridley was arrested on a warrant for arson of property, PC 451(d), with the intent to defraud and or injure another person.
Ridley was released from jail awaiting trial, pending review of custody status, and a warrant was issued by the Superior Court, Department of State Hospitals PC 1370, finding incompetence to stand trial, and Ridley was remanded to be transferred to the custody of the court on September 9, 2015.
What makes this court case different from most is the fact that the defendant has been found incompetent to stand trial. In fact, Ridley committed the crime while failing to take medications prescribed by mental health officials to stabilize her violent moods and outbursts. Competency is often proved in favor by the prosecuting attorney in such cases. However, it was believed that due to Ridley’s state of mind, she was at the time unable to comprehend any punishment that may be handed down by the court system in order to help prevent or delay a possible outbreak of violence similar in nature.
According to court records, Ridley had appealed her status of being unfit to stand trial and she lacked capacity to refuse medication. A warrant has been issued to the Metropolitan State Hospital to have Ridley appear in court on July 6, 2016 at 1:30 in Dept 24 by a court appointed attorney working on her behalf. The defendant was transferred to the State Hospital on March 18, 2015. According to State Officials, Ridley was transferred to the DHS-Napa female IST co-ed unit. According to the State Hospital, the number of referrals was around 400 in June of 2014, with a total intake of 2572 individuals in the year of 2014.
During an interview after her arrest on Sept 15, 2014, Ridley stated, “They’re trying to frame me! It’s just like with Sea Biscuit!” It was apparent that Ridley’s facial skin had shown continual use of the drug, Methamphetamine.
On January 5, 2015 a brief was written on behalf of the state to issue psychotropic medication (an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and agitation) for Ms. Ridley. The problem with such drugs is the reactions the patient may have in the attempt to control their moods or psychotic episodes. Some of these include: heart problems, death/sudden death, weight gain, involuntary movements or movement disorders, strokes, withdrawal symptoms, convulsions, seizures or tremors, diabetes, birth defects, agitation, and/or mania and psychosis.
Court documents reveal that for persons with manic or bipolar tendencies, “antidepressants do push them over the edge into full-blown mania.”
According to the Milpitas Police Department, in the original incident, Ridley had been driven to the Great Mall by a girlfriend’s husband. The two had gotten into an argument, and before she left the vehicle, Ridley had thrown her things in the back seat of the 1998 Silver Honda Civic she had been riding in and started a fire.
The male victim stated to police that he was “tired of listening” to her and left the vehicle, taking the keys and entering the McDonald’s. Ridley refused to leave the vehicle. She was then working at the Red Robin in the Great Mall and did not want to leave to go to work.
During an interview with Ridley she asked the investigator, “How many people had jumped off the bridge this year?” For an experienced investigator, her words told a story of a strained mental health state. She had stated that she was mad and had kicked out the window in the back seat before leaving the vehicle. She stated that she did not start the fire, but had “lit junk” on fire in the back seat. The fire was classified as “incendiary” with the back seat as the point of origin where fire had begun.