Jury finds German man was sane when he set Los Angeles fires
A German man who set dozens of fires across Los Angeles during several nights of terror six years ago to avenge his mother’s deportation was sane at the time, a jury decided Monday.
Harry Burkhart, 30, was previously found guilty of nearly 50 arson counts for fires he set around New Year’s 2012.
Burkhart made good on threats to “roast America” following his mother’s extradition to Germany on fraud charges, prosecutors said.
He placed fire-starting devices under cars in Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and West Hollywood on three different nights, authorities said. Some vehicles were in carports and in 19 cases the fires spread to homes and apartments.
No one was seriously injured during the fires that caused an estimated $3 million in damage, but the blazes ignited widespread fear.
A surveillance video captured an image of the suspect and a deputy U.S. marshal recognized Burkhart as a man who had made an anti-American outburst during his mother’s 2011 detention hearing.
He was arrested after a volunteer sheriff’s deputy pulled over a van that matched the description of the vehicle the suspected arsonist was seen driving.
Defense attorney Steve Schoenfield argued that Burkhart was seriously mentally ill and asked jurors to find him insane. He said medical records from doctors in Germany, where Burkhart had lived in Frankfurt, had documented mental illness symptoms over many years.
Schoenfield said Burkhart believed his separation from his mother meant the world was coming to an end.
Burkhart was convicted of the arsons in September 2016, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict during the sanity phase of the trial.
Burkhart could face up to almost 90 years in prison when he is sentenced March 23.
Conspiracy charges filed against 2 lawyers for Suge Knight
One current and one former attorney for rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight have been indicted on charges including conspiring to bribe potential witnesses in his upcoming murder trial.
Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Monday that Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper were also charged with three other felony counts.
The indictment says Fletcher attempted to pay off witnesses who could provide favorable testimony at Knight’s trial, and alleges Culpepper agreed with a confidential informant that he would provide false testimony.
Knight remains jailed while awaiting trial for running over two men in January 2015, killing one.
The attorneys were released Monday on their own recognizance after a court appearance. They’re scheduled to be arraigned March 16.
Culpepper, and Fletcher’s attorney Mark Geragos, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
By ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press
Man arrested, accused of stealing McDormand’s Oscar trophy
A man was arrested and is accused of stealing Frances McDormand’s Oscars trophy after the Academy Awards on Sunday night, Los Angeles police said.
Terry Bryant, 47, was arrested on suspicion of felony grand theft, said Officer Rosario Herrera, a police spokeswoman.
“After some brief time apart, Frances and her Oscar were happily reunited. They celebrated the reunion with a double cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger,” McDormand’s publicist, Simon Halls, told The Associated Press.
McDormand received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
The Oscar statuette was allegedly stolen during the Governors Ball after party, authorities said. Bryant had a ticket for the event, Herrera said.
The two-time Oscar winner, who swept trophies at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Independent Spirit and BAFTA ceremonies, beat out Sally Hawkins of “The Shape of Water,” Margot Robbie of “I, Tonya,” Saoirse Ronan of “Lady Bird,” and 21-time nominee Streep of “The Post” at Sunday’s Oscars.
In “Three Billboards,” McDormand played Mildred Hayes, a hardened woman seeking justice for her daughter’s murder in the crime drama.
Her first Oscar came for the 1996 film “Fargo,” directed by her husband Joel Coen and his brother Ethan.
Bryant was being held on $20,000 bail Monday morning, police said.
A telephone number for Bryant couldn’t immediately be located and it wasn’t clear if had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
A video that posted live on a Facebook page that appeared to belong to Bryant showed him kissing and flaunting a statuette during the Governor’s Ball.
“Look it, baby. My team got this tonight. This is mine,” he said, turning the trophy toward the camera, before kissing it on the head.
As he spun around in a circle, Bryant solicited congratulations from those around him.
“Who wants to wish me congratulations?” he asked fellow revelers who were walking by, before posing for several selfies.
“You know what, I can’t believe I got this.”
No one named Terry Bryant won an Oscar on Sunday.
By MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press
Diver rescued after becoming ill off Southern California
The Coast Guard says a woman was reported to be in stable condition after being medevaced from a diving vessel off Southern California.
The Coast Guard was called Sunday afternoon when the 53-year-old woman experienced chest pains after surfacing from a dive near Anacapa Island.
A helicopter from the Coast Guard base at Point Mugu hoisted the woman aboard and flew her directly to the UCLA health system’s hyperbaric chamber.