Former professor Reiner Reinscheid gave a lengthy, emotional, testimony in court on Tuesday as he apologized for sending threatening emails and setting fires. Reinscheid stated his frustration with his son’s suicide manifested in a destructive manner and promised to never take similar actions. His wife and former colleagues testified for leniency in the ruling. Ted Chen reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2013.
There was so much emotional testimony Tuesday in the case of a former UC Irvine professor who set a string of fires after his son's death that the judge continued the sentencing hearing.
Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 49, of Irvine, faces a sentence of three to 18 years in state prison, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
Prosecutors have asked for the maximum sentence. Reinscheid's supporters Tuesday argued that no one was physically harmed by his actions, but those at his son's school -- which Reinscheid targeted -- said they will continue to be afraid if he is freed.
In addition to the fires, Reinscheid allegedly wrote emails detailing plans for sexual assaults and a massacre at University High School in Irvine, where his son had been disciplined over a minor theft incident, prosecutors said. Weeks later, in March 2012, the teen killed himself in Mason Park Preserve.
In April 2012, Reinscheid allegedly sent emails to his wife, with one titled "a good plan," which described in detail "his plan to burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and murder school officials and students, and then kill himself," according to the District Attorney's office said.
Reinscheid was not charged in connection with the emails. He pleaded guilty to nine counts of arson and attempted arson.
Between July 4 and 24, 2012, the professor set five fires -- three on the school's campus, one at the park and one at a school administrator's home, authorities said.
Reinscheid's attorney, Ron Cordova, said his client was an anguished soul who wrote the emails as a "therapeutic exercise."
In court Tuesday, a tearful Reinscheid promised he would not reoffend.
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize," he said.
"I can promise you that when released, I will not be a threat to harm any person or property," he added.
Before Reinscheid spoke, however, workers at his son's former school urged prosectuors to give him the maximum sentence. University High School's vice principal -- whose home Reinscheid set fire to three times -- issued a passionate plea.
"We need you to help us return to work with less fear each day," one said.
Reinscheid's sentencing was continued until Wednesday in Santa Ana.
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