LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Harry Burkhart is accused of arson but when his mother took the stand during a preliminary hearing Thursday, she is the one who set off sparks.

Burkhart, a German national, is accused of going on an arson spree that destroyed a number of cars in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley in 2011. He is accused of setting more than 40 separate fires.

Prosecutors believe he went on the arson spree to retaliate for his mother’s possible extradition.

Jeff Nguyen reports that the mother — Dorothee Burkhart — was supposed to be helping her son with her testimony but with her behavior in court Thursday, “she might have done more harm than good.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

When she takes the stand she asks where her son is.

He’s shown via video monitor. “There’s your son here,” says the prosecutor.

Burkhart — who is facing deportation to Germany over fraud charges — wasn’t pleased. “Huh? Where? Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. What did you do to my son?”

She stands up and is told, “Sit down or we’ll have to handcuff you again.”

Burkhart demands to know where her son is being held. She is told he’s at the Twin Towers. She wants to know exactly where.  “You don’t know he’s mentally ill. How you don’t know where he’s placed?”

His attorney says the arson suspect isn’t able to function without his mother.

Not only was she combative with the defense attorney she was also defiant when it came to the judge. She stood up several times — to rifle through papers, to make a point, to argue — and several times was told not to leave her seat.

She so offended the court with her combative behavior, the judge ending up cancelling the hearing.

The judge said, “She wants to come here and give her own speech and editorial? That is not the function of the conditional examination. So I’m going to order that the proceedings be terminated.”


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