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Brandon N. McGlover, the Temecula resident charged with setting the Cranston fire and other blazes near Idyllwild in July, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of arson of a structure or forest land and was sentenced to 12 years, four months in prison.
In addition to admitting he set the Cranston and Sage Road fires, McGlover, 33, also admitted an allegation that he set multiple structures ablaze. At least five homes and 13,000 acres burned in the Cranston fire.
McGlover - Felony - Charges - Reduction - Charges
McGlover faced seven felony charges, a reduction from 15. The charges were reduced during a preliminary hearing. If convicted on the original 15 charges, he could have faced life in prison.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that the charges to which McGlover pleaded better reflected the crimes he committed.
Charges - McGlover - Jury - Doubt - Intent
“The original charges filed against McGlover required proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he had a specific intent to burn structures, which the evidence in the case does not support,” the statement said.
In sentencing McGlover, Superior Court Judge Kelly L. Hansen noted that many residents of the San Jacinto Mountains affected by the fires had hoped to attend the hearing at Southwest Justice Center in French Valley. But they remained home because of the threat of mudslides — a threat created in part when the fires McGlover set killed the vegetation that holds the mountainsides together.
McGlover - Motive - Mystery - Frustration - Victims
McGlover’s motive remains a mystery, to the frustration of those victims.
“They’re still very angry; they all want to know why. We’ve not been able to answer that question in any way, shape or form,” Deputy District Attorney Dan Fox told Hansen.
Hansen - Court - Question - Victims - Defendant
“Frankly,” Hansen said, “the court has the same question the victims have. The defendant has elected not to share with the court what his motives were. But the fact is, because of his...
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