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Rothenberg Denies Shooting Man in Head

Courts: Father who served time for setting son on fire in 1983 in Buena Park enters plea to 'third strike' felony in Oakland. He is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 16.

February 03, 1996|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — Charles Rothenberg, the man who set his 6-year-old son on fire at a Buena Park motel in 1983, pleaded innocent Friday to charges he shot a man in the head.

Rothenberg, 55, was arrested Jan. 25 in the shooting of a 47-year-old man. He was charged with attempted murder and as a former convict allegedly in possession of a gun.

He is scheduled to return to court Feb. 16. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 19.

If convicted, Rothenberg faces a possible life sentence because his previous convictions for arson and attempted murder in his attack on his son count as two strikes against him under California's "three strikes" law, a prosecutor said.

Rothenberg remains in Alameda County jail.

Municipal Court Judge Horace Wheatley ordered news photographers to blur or scramble any pictures of the defendant because the issue of the shooting suspect's identity in the Jan. 12 incident may be disputed during future hearings.

Rothenberg was calmer at Friday's hearing than at his arraignment, when he interrupted the judge to complain about the charges.

In 1983, Rothenberg was sentenced to 13 years in state prison for pouring kerosene over his son and setting the boy on fire at a motel.

He said he tried to kill his son because he feared being permanently separated from the boy by his ex-wife, authorities said. The incident left the boy with burns over 90% of his body and severe disfigurement.

Rothenberg was released from jail after serving seven years and settled in Oakland. Before his parole ended in September 1993, he wore an electronic surveillance bracelet and was under round-the-clock guard by parole agents.

The shooting victim, Stanford Shapiro, only knew his assailant as "Charlie" and said the attacker had worked as a waiter at a diner, Sgt. Mike Foster said.

Shapiro said Charlie tried to befriend him on several occasions, but he did not trust him. He said Charlie confronted him in a hallway outside his TraveLodge motel room, chased him and shot him once in the head.

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