Patterico's Pontifications

1/8/2012

L.A. Arsonist Gets His Day in Court

Filed under: — Patterico @ 12:47 pm

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75 Responses to “L.A. Arsonist Gets His Day in Court”

  1. Yup, it’s working.

    Patterico (d508e7)

  2. people need to be disincented from doing this sort of thing, but Germans especially

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  3. Good job by the prosecutor in the case. I liked District Attorney Cooley’s statement, too.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  4. Domestic terrorists are scum.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. “…I am going to boldly agree with my boss here…”

    Ah, another chapter in “Profiles In Courage” (Heh!).

    (this is one of the comments that would not originally post @ approx 1205)

    AD-RtR/OS! (25ec72)

  6. Domestic terrorists are scum.

    So are legal immigrant/illegal immigrant/tourist terrorists too.

    BfC (2ebea6)

  7. Sentencing enhancements for hate crimes–not relevant if you like the concept or not–are based on about the same idea; terror frightens a/the population.

    Richard Aubrey (a75643)

  8. His papers were from Chechnya, but he is reputedly a German national, this isn’t terribly unlikely,
    as there has been a diaspora through Europe, since the first campaign.

    narciso (87e966)

  9. I liked Lauren Sivan’s tweet on the matter: “I’m new to town. Is this how LA does fireworks?”

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  10. I read that this idea of torching cars, although unheard of over here, has become a common form of protest in Germany. )although I don’t know if you have enough information to know whether there could be a connection)

    In fact, here’s an example:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-16/luxury-cars-burned-in-berlin-protests.html

    Arsonists have set fire to 26 cars in the German capital in the last two days, mainly from Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi, police said today. That brings the total number torched this year in Berlin to at least 138, more than double the figure for all of 2010.

    The rise in Berlin car burnings coincides with widespread lawlessness that erupted last week across England. More than 1,500 people were arrested as rioters looted shops, attacked bystanders and burnt autos. In Berlin, far-left extremists are specifically targeting German luxury cars, symbols of the country’s wealth and export prowess, police said.

    “The arsonists want to hit what they say are ‘Fat Cats,’” Berlin police spokesman Michael Gassen said. A special unit is investigating the fires as political crimes after the police received letters claiming responsibility that derided globalization, gentrification and rising rents, he said.

    This person, if I understand this right, did not target luxury cars, but cars in maybe better or more famous neighborhoods.

    Sammy Finkelman (b17872)

  11. These things were not treated very seriously in Germany, or worse, were treated less severely because they were political protests, either because the authorities were afraid not to treat them with kid gloves, or because they reasoned these people were not real criminals, so we have this.

    He just extended this to a personal grievance. A lot of criminals recognize the criminality of what they are doing, so they don’t seek revenge, but perhaps he thought the punishment was too severe.

    Sammy Finkelman (b17872)

  12. The reason you want these very severe punishments for terrorism is because they want to kill or injure people, but this may not have been the case here.

    Sammy Finkelman (b17872)

  13. This is more like the Con Ed mad bomber, except he was more stupid, and there was some real wrongdoing in the background, at least on the part of his mother, before all this got started..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Metesky

    He injured people, he didn’t kill anyone, although one 63-year old picked up as a suspect died of a heart attack while being questioned.

    When caught, Metesky was committed to a mental institution and, for some reason (did a lawyer have something to do with this?) expected to die in a few weeks because of advanced tuberculosis, but it was 1957 and they had had antibiotics for about ten years and they cured him.

    Metesky was unresponsive to psychiatric therapy, but was a model inmate and caused no trouble. He was visited regularly by his sisters and occasionally by Dr. Brussel, to whom he would point out that he had deliberately built his bombs not to kill anyone.[10]

    In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a mentally ill defendant cannot be committed to a hospital operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services unless a jury finds him dangerous. Since Metesky had been committed to Matteawan without a jury trial, he was transferred to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, a state hospital outside the correctional system.[43]

    Doctors determined that he was harmless, and because he had already served two-thirds of the 25-year maximum sentence he would have received at trial, Metesky was released on December 13, 1973. The single condition was that he make regular visits to a Connecticut Department of Mental Hygiene clinic near his home.

    He died 20 years later at the age of 90.

    Sammy Finkelman (b17872)

  14. Were this guys actions meant to kill or seriously harm people? If not, then he doesn’t deserve a life sentence.

    If you can’t kill someone in defense of property, then you shouldn’t be able to sentence someone to life in prison for destruction of property.

    People before property.

    Leviticus (dd1d7b)

  15. Although if he did indeed set fire to 9 [actually] inhabited buildings (the article doesn’t make it clear whether or not he was setting fire to homes or what, or when), then it probably becomes appropriate to discuss a life sentence on grounds of recklessness.

    Also, the guy’s only 24. Pretty young…

    Leviticus (dd1d7b)

  16. Also, the guy’s only 24. Pretty young…

    But more than old enough to know that torching cars isn’t exactly the go-to move here.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  17. But young enough to still be an idiot with questionable judgment.

    Leviticus (dd1d7b)

  18. I have to ask, exactly what is “bombmaking material” ??

    I certainly hope it isn’t the definition used on TV, which includes anything that looks like a circuit board with coilly wires

    [note: released from moderation. --Stashiu]

    Neo (d1c681)

  19. So people who are young shouldn’t be punished for horrible, violent, massively destructive acts?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  20. burning cars have this unfortunate habit of exploding, which means people are likely to be injured, is this even a question,

    narciso (87e966)

  21. I saw one of the burny place on riverside tonight on the way to a lebanese place called carnival on woodman what had uncharacteristically crappy service but tasty foozle except for the “carnival burger” … gack – they mix ground lamb with ground beef and then undercook it

    but the baba was tasty tasty

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  22. Ay chihuahua.

    Patterico (d508e7)

  23. and no I didn’t eat a lot of baba cause of it’s white but I tried really hard to eat the hybrid meat patty

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  24. I didn’t eat a lot of baba cause of it’s white

    That’s racist.

    btw, it’s really easy to make your own. Tasty leftover food.

    Dustin (cb3719)

  25. it’s not racist it’s a marker of the presence of pernicious round-making carbs Mr. Dustin

    here Mr. Dustin… let’s listen in on this fascinating exchange between Mr. Dr. Oz and his good friend Oprah the Winfrey!

    Oprah: Maya Angelou says that when you know better, you do better, so here’s the 64-million-dollar question: Why is it that we Americans, who have heard all the advice a thousand times — go with unsaturated instead of saturated fats, eat more fruits and vegetables and less white food, cut back on red meat — don’t do better?

    Dr. Oz: Oprah, you taught me this: People change based on what they feel, not what they know. Which means that understanding all that advice doesn’t matter if there’s no deep, profound, visceral awareness of why it’s important. We know what we should and shouldn’t put in our mouths, but in those times that pull on our souls, we revert to what’s emotionally comfortable.

    Yes. We revert back to what’s “emotionally comfortable” “in those times that pull on our souls.”

    Lots to think about there, huh?

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  26. Figures.

    We should deport this Left wing trash.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  27. Nothing comes to mind, except abandon all hope, ye who enter here’

    narciso (87e966)

  28. it’s not racist it’s a marker of the presence of pernicious round-making carbs Mr. Dustin

    Then you’re racist against fat people too. Shame, shame.

    We revert back to what’s “emotionally comfortable” “in those times that pull on our souls.”

    Story of my life.

    Dustin (cb3719)

  29. Instead of calling them Liberal call them Freedom hating cocksure trash.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  30. “So people who are young shouldn’t be punished for horrible, violent, massively destructive acts?”

    - Scott Jacobs

    A) Sometimes. We don’t (usually) prosecute minors as adults. I know this guy wasn’t a minor, but it’s not ridiculous to think that his age should play a factor in his prosecution. That’s why we have prosecutorial discretion.

    B) This guy committed property crimes. Is there an indication that he was trying to kill anyone? That matters. I know modern America is all about slapping the “terrorist” label on things so that we can apply a new set of ill-considered rules, and I know we love to make a fetish of property, but until I hear that this guy intended to kill someone or was extremely reckless as to the possibility that someone would die, I’m going to be inclined to think that Mr. Cooley’s expressed intention to pursue a life sentence for a mentally unstable 24-year old’s arson spree is… ahem… opportunistic.

    Leviticus (dd1d7b)

  31. until I hear that this guy intended to kill someone or was extremely reckless as to the possibility that someone would die

    You haven’t heard enough to conclude that this guy was recklessly indifferent to the possibility that someone would die?

    Really?!

    Patterico (d508e7)

  32. Christine Pelisek:

    The arson spree began early Friday when 21 cars and small trucks were set ablaze in Hollywood and West Hollywood. Most of the cars were set afire in carports or underground parking structures. Flames ignited nearby homes, including Jim Morrison’s former $1.19 million Hollywood Hills home, which was built in 1922. All of the Friday fires, which began after midnight, occurred within a two-square-mile radius in an area filled with sleeping residents.

    Can we get a little re-evaluation here, Leviticus?

    Patterico (d508e7)

  33. And a little reminder: reckless indifference to human life is enough for a murder charge if someone dies.

    And if anyone had died, this fellow could have faced the death penalty.

    Patterico (d508e7)

  34. These leftys don’t care about their environment much do they?

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  35. Well they tell us to recycle though such pious hypocritical baloney.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  36. His papers were from Chechnya, but he is reputedly a German national, this isn’t terribly unlikely, as there has been a diaspora through Europe, since the first campaign.

    He could also be ethnic German. Stalin deported millions of Germans to Chechnya when the war broke out, to prevent them from helping their invading German brothers. When the USSR fell many of them moved back to the Vaterland.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  37. I have spoken to nobody in the DA’s office about this — but I am going out on a limb and saying he and his mom are ethnic Russians. Not Germans.

    Don’t ask me why I say that. It is definitely not because I spoke to anyone from work about it.

    But just watch and see.

    Patterico (d508e7)

  38. “The accused fire starter faces 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure.”

    Well, if he’s convicted, he’s looking at ten to life (assuming that five or more inhabited structures were damaged).

    I hope it was worth it.

    “The Oakland Firestorm of 1991 was a large urban fire that occurred on the hillsides of northern Oakland, California, and southeastern Berkeley on Sunday October 20, 1991, two years after the Loma Prieta earthquake. The fire has also been called the Oakland hills firestorm, the East Bay Hills Fire, and the Tunnel Fire (because of its origin above the west portal of the Caldecott Tunnel) in Oakland. The fire ultimately killed 25 people and injured 150 others. The 1,520 acres (6.2 km²) destroyed included 3,354 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion.”–wiki

    Fire ain’t no joke where I live. Accidental fires are bad enough. We don’t need folks setting them on purpose.

    If this guy’s guilty, I hope they toss the proverbial book at him.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  39. There are plenty of ethnic Germans in Russia, ever since Catherine the Great got a bunch of her former countrymen and women to immigrate. (Ekateringrad and environs is where most of them settled.)

    Los Angeles is a city where fires and brushfires don’t just go out on their own. Anybody who’s even heard of LA has heard of the wildfires along the hills and canyons just back of residential areas. So anyone setting a fire close to such areas is clearly in business to kill people, unless he’s so out of it that he doesn’t understand the nature of fire being to burn things.

    Maureen (863608)

  40. Oops. I meant Ekaterinburg/Yekaterinburg (aka Sverdlovsk in Communist times).

    Maureen (863608)

  41. Comment by narciso — 1/8/2012 @ 7:48 pm

    Rarely!
    What you see in the “movies” does not reflect real-world dynamics.
    Usually, they just burn.

    AD-RtR/OS! (bd4dc3)

  42. Comment by Leviticus — 1/8/2012 @ 9:19 pm

    It is the refusal of the Left to protect property that has got us to this point.
    Remember, Mr. Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration IIRC was about “…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit(sic) of Property…”.
    The Progressives of yore took the attitude that property was not something that you could defend with deadly force, and it is engrained into CA law.
    TX is one of the few states that have bucked that trend; and I would think the stats show a marked lessening of property-crimes there v. CA, on a per-capita basis.
    Also, the cars are just someone’s property (with financial hooks into banks and insurance companies too – but, “they” can “afford” the loss/sarc), but fires are notoriously difficult to discipline and keep from spreading into adjacent structures that contain actual people; people that may not be able to escape the destruction.
    Plus, if an arsonist is shot and killed, he will commit no more arson – and arsonists are notorious serial perpetrators.

    AD-RtR/OS! (bd4dc3)

  43. Los Angeles is a city where fires and brushfires don’t just go out on their own. Anybody who’s even heard of LA has heard of the wildfires along the hills and canyons just back of residential areas. So anyone setting a fire close to such areas is clearly in business to kill people, unless he’s so out of it that he doesn’t understand the nature of fire being to burn things.

    Comment by Maureen

    Makes sense. He said he hated America. That kind of sentiment goes along with being OK with Americans burning up.

    Dustin (cb3719)

  44. Leviticus: Surely you don’t believe he was, at 24, too young to understand what he was doing was wrong? And could cause death? Remember, he can vote. Well, if he is a citizen and/or a Democrat.

    happyfeet: My daughter makes chocolate babka at Christmas. It’s to die for. You should try it.

    PatAZ (8aabf0)

  45. No Dave he is looking at life imo.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  46. How can we survive 4 more years of Obamas republican counterpart Romney?

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  47. PatAZ, baba = babaganoush, very different from babka!

    Milhouse (d3fd53)

  48. It turns out you can beat a babka.

    Dustin (cb3719)

  49. .

    I’m always a bit skeptical about finding “bomb making materials.” You can make a nice fire bomb with a glass bottle and a some cloth among other components. I’ll bet most of you have had “bomb making materials” in your car at one time or another.

    .

    Abdul Abulbul Amir (4d55c2)

  50. Yes, I keep a back-up supply of black-powder, ammonium-nitrate, #2-diesel, and primer-cord in the back of the van all the time.

    AD-RtR/OS! (bd4dc3)

  51. #50

    Ah, that stuff is for sissies.

    I never go anywhere without a tactical nuke in the trunk.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  52. babka is amazing! … porn star ralph’s brings some in for the holidays from a little bakery in brooklyn… so good – and you can usually find it at Cambridge Farms too

    I got one for work one year and nobody would eat it cause of the carbs so I ended up eating the whole thing, which was a Bad Choice

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  53. Pawn star you meant to say.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  54. What is babka?

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  55. A kind of cake:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babka_(cake)

    The cake is traditional in the lands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, namely Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Western Russia , as well as among the Rusyns (Ruthenians) in northeastern Hungary and all over Romania, where it is called “colac”. Darra Goldstein, professor of Russian at Williams College says “babka comes from baba, a very tall, delicate yet rich yeast-risen cake eaten in Western Russia and Eastern Poland.”[1] Traditional babka has some type of fruit filling, especially raisins, and is glazed with a fruit-flavored icing, sometimes with rum added. Modern babka may be chocolate or have a cheese filling.

    Theer’s also a somewhat different Jewish version. Kokosh is somewaht similar.

    Etymology

    The Polish and Belarusian noun babka, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian baba mean “grandmother,” and as applied to the pastry probably refer to its shape, a tall cylinder, sometimes with corrugations resembling a skirt’s pleats.[2] The name of the pastry entered the English language from Polish, via French, although “babka” is also sometimes used in its original sense (“grandmother”), especially among those of Eastern European descent.[3]

    Sammy Finkelman (d3daeb)

  56. Los Angeles is a city where fires and brushfires don’t just go out on their own. Anybody who’s even heard of LA has heard of the wildfires along the hills and canyons

    But nobody has ever heard of a fire burning down a whole section of Los Angeles in recent times. He heard of a Fire Department and knew where it failed…and where it succeeded, so i wouldn;’t attribuite to him a desire to create a mass conflagration. If he had set it OUTSIDE the city, maybe.

    Sammy Finkelman (d3daeb)

  57. I know that they aren’t the same, Milhouse, but happyfeet loves him some cupcakes, so I thought of the babka. It’s pretty much an all day job, but it is so worth it.

    No Ralph’s here to buy it from Brooklyn.

    PatAZ (8aabf0)

  58. I’m in Brooklyn; what’s a Ralph’s? :-)

    Milhouse (d3fd53)

  59. Try Kroger’s.

    AD-RtR/OS! (bd4dc3)

  60. But nobody has ever heard of a fire burning down a whole section of Los Angeles in recent times.

    Tell that to the people who lived through the King-Riots in Pico-Union.

    AD-RtR/OS! (bd4dc3)

  61. No Krogers here either. But plenty of babka in the bakeries.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  62. babka has lots of carbs and carbs are very 2011

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  63. Close friends of mine were literally the last two people alive to leave the Pasadena hardware store fire set by John Orr in 1984. So I don’t find arsonists very funny.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  64. Arsonists deserve to be shot.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  65. Yikes… thread blew up a bit. Sorry I haven’t responded to stuff. My home computer is in the shop.

    So:

    “You haven’t heard enough to conclude that this guy was recklessly indifferent to the possibility that someone would die?

    Really?!”

    - Patterico

    Really really. Unless he was deliberately setting fire to houses, it would strike me that he was aiming to destroy property, not harm people. Does setting fire to cars really strike you as wanton disregard for human life?

    Leviticus (300e0a)

  66. Does setting fire to cars really strike you as wanton disregard for human life?

    Dozens of them, in a residential area, in a city where fires spread like … well, like wildfire?

    Yup.

    Patterico (d508e7)

  67. Leviticus, this is from the article Patterico linked:

    The accused fire starter faces 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure.

    [emphasis mine]

    So, yes, he was deliberately setting fire to homes.

    Chuck Bartowski (3bccbd)

  68. Chuck,

    I saw that, but it’s not clear to me from the article what exactly that charge entails. It’s perfectly possible that those nine counts stem from fires which spread from cars to homes, without the guy deliberately setting fire to homes.

    Leviticus (300e0a)

  69. Patterico,

    What about a guy recklessly throwing a (dozen) lit cigarette butt(s) from a car window during a drought in a forest community, like (say) Jemez NM? Wanton disregard? Life sentence?

    There’s no indication that he intended for anyone to die (and, not insignificantly, no one did. If someone had, this would obviously be a very different discussion). Why are we talking about a life sentence for this guy?

    Leviticus (300e0a)

  70. It’s perfectly possible that those nine counts stem from fires which spread from cars to homes, without the guy deliberately setting fire to homes

    If you set a car on fire that’s near enough to a home for the home to catch on fire, then I would call that reckless disregard for life and property.

    Look, if your accomplice in a crime is killed, you are charged with murder, even if you weren’t carrying a weapon and didn’t intend for anyone to die.

    You don’t have to intend to kill someone if your actions are so dangerous that any resonable person could easily foresee a human death as a result of them.

    Chuck Bartowski (3bccbd)

  71. “if your accomplice in a crime is killed, you are charged with murder, even if you weren’t carrying a weapon and didn’t intend for anyone to die.”

    - Chuck Bartowski

    That’s not really true – not always, anyway. Patterico could obviously tell you more about this than I could, but one of the common restrictions to the felony murder rule is a proximate causation approach (or an agency approach) that precludes a felony murder charge where, say, a police officer kills an accomplice trying to flee the scene of a crime. (State v. Sophophone springs to mind)

    Leviticus (300e0a)

  72. That’s not really true – not always, anyway.

    Fine. It doesn’t invalidate my point:

    You don’t have to intend to kill someone if your actions are so dangerous that any resonable person could easily foresee a human death as a result of them

    Chuck Bartowski (3bccbd)

  73. At least in my neck of the woods these fires can get out hand and kill folks. I realize this is a little different.

    If someone was setting fires anywhere near homes and later explains their motivation was hate, it’s hard for me to cut them any slack. That suggests, to me, that they intended more than just mischief.

    I don’t mean that as a legal opinion, and frankly I don’t like crimes that lack a requirement of proving intent.

    I appreciate that Leviticus is presenting the other view, but in this case I think this guy probably was looking to hurt people, and at the very least, was at least utterly unconcerned that people could be hurt or killed.

    Dustin (cb3719)

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