Man who started wildfires is sentenced to death

Posted Jun 5, 2009 by Jane Fazackarley
A man from South California who has been held responsible for the deaths of five fire fighters after lighting a wildfire back in 2006 has received the death sentence.
A view of fires blazing across California
Showing the top of Haven Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Elevation 2600 feet, about 1500 feet above the valley floor. The fires are about 19 miles away to the southwest
Photo by Erick.Nielsen.Photos
The man who started the blazes, Raymond Lee Oyler was convicted of what was known as the Esperanza Fire which took hold of Riverside County and was also found guilty of starting a number of other fires.
Five firemen were caught up in the fire when they went to help out at a house which was being threatened by the flames.
The Judge, W Charles Morgan, ruled that any aggravating circumstances in the court case were stronger than the mitigating circumstances put forward.
10.000 local people turned out to show their respects to the firemen who lost their lives. Nearly all of them were young men in their twenties.
Raymond Lee Oyler was also found guilty of another 20 charges of arson and 17 charges of the involvement of using an incendiary device to set the fires.
The trial lasted four weeks and the jury put forward the death sentence verdict. The Judge could have given the man a life sentence.
Judge W Charles Morgan said this:
"Mr Oyler set [out] on a mission... to wreak havoc in this county by setting fires by his own design for his own purposes and, as proven by the evidence, he became more and more proficient.
"He knew that young men and woman would put their lives on the line to protect other people and property and he continued anyway."