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California in Brief | MALIBU

3 plead not guilty to causing wildfire

December 22, 2007|From the Associated Press

Three men pleaded not guilty Friday to causing a wildfire that destroyed 50 homes in Malibu, and their lawyers said outside court that they were being made scapegoats by an outraged community.

Attorneys entered not guilty pleas for Brian David Franks, 27; William Thomas Coppock, 23; and Brian Alan Anderson, 22, all of Los Angeles.

In all, five men have been charged with recklessly causing the Nov. 24 fire that swept through 4,000 acres of Malibu Canyon.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael K. Kellogg, a Malibu resident, took the unusual step of denying from the bench that his neighbors had pressured him.

"Nobody's putting pressure on me," he said. "No one . . . has come down from Malibu and knocked on my door and said, 'Hey, Judge, we know where you live!' "

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