LOS ANGELES (AP) - A freelance videographer was acquitted
Thursday of five arson charges stemming from a 2002 fire near
Palmdale that destroyed four homes and burned more than 5,000
acres.
A Superior Court jury deadlocked on two additional arson charges
against 23-year-old Joshua Harville of Palmdale, and Judge Michael
Pastor declared a mistrial on those counts.
Prosecutors alleged that Harville started the fire so he could
videotape it and sell the footage to news agencies.
Harville had been jailed on $1 million bail but was released
pending an April 6 court appearance on the two additional charges.
"We're certainly disappointed with the jury's decision, and
we'll be discussing the case before the next hearing to decide
whether we will precede with a retrial," said Sandi Gibbons,
spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.
Harville's attorney, Alan Baum, said he was pleased with the
acquittals but "a little puzzled" by the jury's inability to
reach a verdict on the other two charges. "I would like to have
understood their rationale," he said. "It seems to me that it's
all one fire."
The wildfire that began Sept. 3, 2002, near Leona Valley in
northeast Los Angeles County also destroyed four outbuildings and
charred about 5,100 acres. It cost $2 million to extinguish.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)