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Arson Suspect Loses Bail Reduction Bid

August 24, 1996|TRACY WILSON

Suspected serial arsonist Kenneth Allen Lee lost an attempt Friday to have his bail reduced after prosecutors argued that his release would be risky during the height of fire season.

Lee has been charged with setting four fires in the Ojai Valley area, and Deputy Dist. Atty. Ken Chun said there are indications Lee may have been involved in setting a fifth fire.

Authorities arrested Lee, 35, at his Ojai home Tuesday) and said they found unspecified evidence linking him to a series of fires that have been set in brushy canyon areas near Ojai over the past 12 months.

The most recent fire was set June 29 and burned 145 acres in the Topa Topa Mountain foothills.

Lee was booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of felony arson and his bail was set at $20,000. Although his arraignment was postponed until Wednesday at 9 a.m., his lawyer sought Friday to reduce the bail amount to $10,000.

Victor Salas Jr. argued that his client's wife is five months' pregnant and needs her husband at home.

"I think because he has no record what to speak of, he has every reason to come back to court," Salas said. "There isn't a chance he will take off."

But Judge Steven Hintz said he was more concerned about the risk of additional fires than Lee fleeing.

Voicing the same concern, prosecutors requested a bail increase to $50,000. Hintz set the amount at $25,000.

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