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Trial set for arson suspect in deadly 2003 Calif. fire

4:11 AM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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SAN BERNARDINO, CA (AP) - Trial is set to begin for a man charged with setting a Southern California wildfire that destroyed 1,000 homes and caused five deadly heart attacks nearly a decade ago.

Rickie Lee Fowler will go on trial Monday on arson and five murder counts with special circumstances that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Prosecutors allege that he set the Old Fire in October 2003. The blaze erupted in the foothills above San Bernardino and scorched 91,000 acres over nine days.

Fowler was a suspect almost after the fire began, when witnesses reported seeing a passenger in a white van tossing burning objects into dry brush. However, he wasn't indicted in connection to the fire until six years later when prosecutors said they obtained enough evidence to charge him.

The Associated Press

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