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January 23, 2009 | David Kelly
Raymond Lee Oyler, who is charged with setting the October 2006 Esperanza fire that killed five firefighters, was a serial arsonist whose girlfriend once gave him an ultimatum to stop setting fires or she would leave him, prosecutors said Thursday. In opening statements at Oyler's trial, Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Hestrin told jurors that the 38-year-old auto mechanic had set more than 20 fires in the San Gorgonio Pass area in the months before the fatal blaze.
September 7, 2008
A perennial -- and politically potent -- argument made by religious conservatives is that secular humanists and activist judges have banished religion from public schools. True, the U.S. Supreme Court rightly has banned official prayers from the classroom, but it hasn't prohibited student religious clubs from meeting on school property on the same basis as other clubs. Unfortunately, some school districts continue to give the religious right ammunition by discriminating against Bible study groups.
September 4, 2008 | My-Thuan Tran, Times Staff Writer
A north Orange County high school has been told it can no longer ban a Bible club from meeting on campus and must offer them listings in the school's yearbook and website. Until the federal court ruling, students had been prevented from starting a Bible club at Esperanza High School in Anaheim. Placentia-Yorba Linda School District officials argued that only curriculum-related groups are allowed on campus. But in issuing a preliminary injunction last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney said that Esperanza does allow other groups -- such as a Red Cross club -- to meet on campus, even though he said they are not directly related to academics.
June 21, 2008 | From Times Wire Reports
Inmates rioted at a prison near Asuncion to press a list of demands, including nighttime conjugal visits and an end to alleged mistreatment by guards. They seized the Esperanza prison's director and other administrators, demanding the nighttime visits and an end to mistreatment by guards. Paraguayan prisons allow such visits during the day, but that limitation clashes with working hours at Esperanza, where inmates have jobs, many at a prison clothing factory. Justice Minister Derlis Osorio said the riot ended after four hours with no deaths or injuries.
July 11, 2007 | From Times Staff Reports
The State Assembly this week approved a resolution that cleared the way to designate a 30-mile stretch of Highway 243 between Banning and Mountain Center as the "Esperanza Firefighters Memorial Highway." The road will honor the five U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were overrun by flames while fighting a more than 40,000-acre, arson-caused blaze west of Palm Springs in October. The Assembly unanimously passed the resolution, sponsored by Assemblyman John J. Benoit, (R-Palm Desert), Monday.
June 30, 2007 | Sara Lin, Times Staff Writer
Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser was in the middle of building an addition to the aging, 800-square-foot cabin he shared with his wife and five children -- nothing lavish, just enough space so his kids wouldn't have to sleep in the living room. But when Loutzenhiser, 43, a longtime firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, died on Oct. 26 along with four crew members while fighting an arson wildfire near Palm Springs, this small mountain hamlet of 3,000 pulled together to finish the job.
March 21, 2007 | Maeve Reston, Times Staff Writer
After a two-day hearing in which prosecutors previewed their case against the man accused of lighting the 40,000-acre Esperanza fire in October, a Riverside County judge ruled that suspected arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler would stand trial for murder in the deaths of five firefighters killed in the blaze. He also will be tried on 22 counts of arson and 17 counts of possession of materials to commit arson, Judge Jeffrey Prevost ruled.
March 20, 2007 | Maeve Reston, Times Staff Writer
In the five months leading up to the 40,000-acre Esperanza fire that killed five federal firefighters in October, investigators in Riverside County were on the hunt for a serial arsonist they believed was responsible for more than 50 fires in the San Gorgonio Pass. They posted surveillance cameras on telephone poles in remote areas and strategized about how to catch the person.
March 17, 2007 | From Times Staff Reports
The Riverside County district attorney's office has filed 13 new counts of arson against Raymond Lee Oyler, the 36-year-old auto mechanic from Beaumont charged with starting the 40,000-acre Esperanza fire west of Palm Springs. Five federal firefighters were killed in the October blaze, and prosecutors previously had charged Oyler with five counts of murder in their deaths, along with 11 counts of arson for fires that were started in Riverside County from June to October.
March 15, 2007 | Maeve Reston, Times Staff Writer
A relative of arson suspect Raymond Lee Oyler, accused of setting a Riverside County wildfire that killed five federal firefighters in October, told investigators that Oyler had said he wanted to set the mountain on fire as a diversion to break his family's pit bull out of a nearby pound, according to investigative reports.
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