56-year-old Patrick Kelley, who has been charged and convicted in multiple arsons dating back to 1973, was arraigned in Onondaga County Court on Thursday.
He pleaded not guilty to charges including second-degree murder and first-degree arson.
Beverly Palmeteer died of injuries she suffered during the fire.
Kelley's attorney, Fran Walter, says he has a long history of mental issues.
The examination is to determine his mental competence.
Kelley is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 26.
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