German man convicted of setting dozens of fires in Los Angeles area
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A German national dubbed the “Hollywood Arsonist” was found guilty on Thursday of setting dozens of fires in the Los Angeles area nearly five years ago, prosecutors said. Los Angeles County Superior Court jurors found Harry Burkhart, 29, guilty of 25 counts of arson of property, 18 counts of arson of an inhabited dwelling and other charges including possession of an incendiary device, the local district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Burkhart faces a possible sentence of more than 88 years in prison, the statement said. The trial began on Aug. 15, and after closing arguments on Wednesday jurors deliberated for less than a day before returning their verdict. At the trial’s opening statements, a prosecutor told jurors that Burkhart lit the fires because he was enraged by the deportation hearing of his Russian-born mother, Dorothee Burkhart, who was ordered to be extradited to Germany to face criminal charges. Burkhart set more than 40 fires in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley and in nearby West Hollywood between Dec. 30, 2011, and his arrest on Jan. 2, 2012, prosecutors said. The blazes charred cars and homes, causing an estimated $3 million in damages, but caused no deaths. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Leslie Adler)