German National Was Sane in Holiday Weekend Arson Spree, Jurors Say - NBC Southern California

German National Was Sane in Holiday Weekend Arson Spree, Jurors Say

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    Harry Burkhart was convicted in a series of arsons related to the 2011 New Year's Eve holiday rash of car and carport fires in Los Angeles.

    A German national convicted of setting a series of nearly 50 fires during a holiday weekend more than six years ago was found sane, a jury concluded on Monday.

    Jurors deliberated for several hours before finding Harry Burkhart sane for setting 47 fires beginning on Dec. 30, 2011, under vehicles or near homes using various incendiary devices, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a news release.

    Burkhart, 30, was found guilty in 2016 of 25 counts of arson of property, 18 counts of arson of an inhabited dwelling and two counts each of possession of an incendiary device, attempted arson and arson of a structure, prosecutors said.

    Sentencing is set for March 23 when he faces a possible maximum sentence of 88 years and eight months in state prison.

    The crimes occurred between Dec. 30, 2011, and Jan. 2, 2012, with a one- day break on New Year's Day, when no fires were set.

    Most of the blazes were started under vehicles parked in carports or near homes, but one vehicle was set on fire Dec. 30 in the parking lot of a shopping center in Hollywood and another at a complex nearby on New Year's Eve.

    Prosecutors have said that Burkhart tried to inflict "fear on the entire community" in a "quest for revenge" after his mother was arrested in the United States in connection with a criminal case in Germany.

    Defense attorney Steve Schoenfield told jurors that the prosecution had presented evidence to connect his client to a handful of the crimes, but "lacked specific evidence against Harry Burkhart for the bulk of the charged arsons."

    The fires started right after Burkhart's mother, Dorothee, was arrested and arraigned and then stopped after Burkhart was taken into custody on Jan. 2, 2012.

    Burkhart had pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

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