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Third-strike conviction is upheld

Appellate court backs a lengthy sentence in the case of man who once set son ablaze.

January 30, 2008|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A state appellate court has upheld the lengthy prison sentence of a man after his third strike, which includes convictions for severely burning his 6-year-old son.

The case of Charley Charles, formerly Charles Rothenberg, drew public outrage when he got a seven-year sentence for attempted murder and arson convictions in the 1983 attempt on his son's life.

Charles appealed a ruling that said the case counted as two convictions -- rather than one -- under California's so-called three-strikes law, which mandates harsh sentences for repeat offenders. He was sentenced to 25 years to life for his third strike on a weapons conviction.

A three-judge appeals court unanimously upheld that sentence Tuesday.

In 1983, Charles took his son to a Buena Park motel room, gave him a sleeping pill, doused the room with kerosene and lit it before leaving. David Rothenberg suffered burns over 90% of his body.

Charles said he was distraught about losing the boy to his wife in a custody battle.

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