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2nd Trial Set in 5,100-Acre Fire

June 24, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge Wednesday set July 23 as the date for the retrial of a Palmdale cameraman accused of setting a 5,100-acre wildfire in Leona Valley two years ago.

In March, a jury acquitted Joshua Harville, 23, on five less serious counts of arson, but split on two counts of aggravated arson.

Prosecutors will retry Harville on the two aggravated arson charges, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Authorities have alleged that Harville set the blaze in order to gain exclusive TV footage. On the stand, Harville said sheriff's detectives ignored evidence that would have cleared him.

The Sept. 3, 2002, wildfire destroyed five homes and caused the evacuation of 200 people.

Defense attorney Alan Baum has said the verdict was contradictory, because it cleared Harville of the charges of general intent to start a fire but split on the more serious charges of specifically intending to burn homes and forestland.

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