In a shocking discovery, a University of California Irvine professor has recently been charged with arson at his son's high school, the home of a school administrator, a nearby park and now an additional arson charge, according to Orange County prosecutors. These allegations come just months after the professor's 14-year-old son committed suicide.
To date, the UC Irvine professor is facing ten charges of felony arson; the most recent charge was filed Thursday of last week. Prosecutors released statements that they found incriminating evidence on the professor's cellphone. This information led prosecutors to believe that he was intending to burn down the high school, kill the students, kill the officials, and then kill himself.
To add context to these shocking allegations, it is important to note that the professor's son formerly attended University High School in Irvine (the school the professor was charged with arson for). The boy was disciplined, according to school officials, for a minor incident of theft. The very next day, the boy killed himself in Mason Park Preserve, which was also a location the professor attempted arson.
In one instance, as patrols were attempting to stop the professor from starting a fire, he refused to comply with police orders to cease the act of arson and resisted arrest when they attempted to detain him. As a result, a misdemeanor "resisting or obstructing an officer" was added to his string of charges. After he was taken in, he was released on bail that same day- posting a $50,000 bail for himself.
This is the point at which investigators found additional incriminating evidence. In the drafts folder of his email on his cellphone were detailed descriptions of his plan to light his son's former high school on fire, commit sexual assault and also murder multiple school officials. Once this information was discovered, he was re-arrested just three days after he posted bail. His arraignment took place a short time later but it was determined that bail should not be set, since he posed a threat to the community.
Many people might not realize that arson can be considered a federal offense. The legal definition of this crime is "intentionally and maliciously setting fire to buildings, woodland areas, cars or other property with the intent to cause damage." If this UC Irvine professor is to be convicted of arson, the prosecutors will have to prove that the intent behind these crimes were malicious. In this particular incident, this may not be difficult due to the emails found on the professor's phone.
To learn more about federal charges or other serious felony offenses and their consequences, please do not hesitate to contact our firm. Okabe & Haushalter is a firm equipped with the resources and the skill necessary to combat these charges head-on. If you're facing felony charges, ours is the firm to contact.