Harry Burkhart Pleads Not Guilty To 100 Arson-Related Charges
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Prosecutors added 63 more charges Tuesday against a German national suspected in a four-night arson spree in the Los Angeles area.
Harry Burkhart, 24, pleaded not guilty to 100 total counts of arson for allegedly setting more than 50 fires to cars, garages and carports in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley during the New Years weekend. He was originally charged with 37 counts. The fires caused millions of dollars in property damage, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The judge also raised Burkhart’s bail Tuesday from $2.8 million to $7.5 million.
“The people believe that Mr. Burkhart shouldn’t get a free pass simply because he managed to victimize so many people,” Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney said outside court. “And, frankly, it’s just fairness to the victims and fairness to this community that we charge Mr. Burkhart with all of the crimes that we believe we can prove that he committed against all the victims terrorized in this arson spree. … To explain his conduct, you really have to present evidence of the entire arson spree.”
The prosecutor said he did not anticipate filing any more charges against Burkhart. The suspect was due back in court March 1, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.
Authorities say Burkhart was upset over his family’s legal troubles. His mother, Dorothee Burkhart, will likely be extradited to Germany, where she faces 19 counts of fraud.
A guard at the German consulate snapped a photo of a fire starter Burkhart reportedly left in a hallway last month, just hours after the fires were set.
When Burkhart was arrested three days later, authorities found similar fire starters in the back of his mini-van.
Prosecutors said Tuesday Burkhart faces more than 80 years in state prison if convicted.