Arson Suspect Arraigned on Charges of Setting Nine Fires - New York News

Arson Suspect Arraigned on Charges of Setting Nine Fires In Riverside Co.

Posted: Updated:

(FOX 11/CNS) - A Banning man was arraigned today on arson charges in a newly unsealed grand jury indictment accusing him of setting nine fires that burned a total of 670 acres in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Steven Taylor Rutherford, who pleaded not guilty to 13 felony arson counts, is accused of starting the "Mills Fire" in San Bernardino County and eight blazes in Riverside County.

Rutherford, 48, was arrested last June following a months-long investigation by Cal Fire. He has a conviction for arson from 1989, for which he was sentenced to a year in jail and three years probation.

He could face 80 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which include sentence-enhancing allegations of use of a delayed ignition device and having a prior arson conviction, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Rutherford is due back in court March 11 for a trial-readiness conference. At a news conference last July, Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach alleged Rutherford was "a serial arsonist who poses a dangerous risk to the citizens of Southern California."

The "Mills Fire," which began last June 28 near Mills Creek and Newport roads on the outskirts of Mentone, scorched 534 acres and damaged four properties, including two homes.

Rutherford is also accused of setting:

-- the five-acre "Twin Fire," Highway 243 at Twin Pines Road, on Sept. 6, 2011;

-- the 55-acre "Banning Fire," Highway 243 north of Mt. Edna Road, on Sept. 7, 2011;

-- the "Summit Fire," which burned about two acres in the vicinity of Highway 74 at mile marker 55, and the 35-acre "Lambs Fire," Gilman Springs Road east of Sanderson Avenue, both on Sept. 11, 2011;

 -- the 20-acre "Water Fire," Whitewater Canyon north of Interstate 15, and the 10-acre "Free Fire," Mt. Edna Road west of Highway 243, both on Oct. 22, 2011;

-- the "Edna Fire," Highway 243 south of Wesley Street, which blackened about four acres on Sept. 9, 2012;

 -- on June 28, 2013, the five-acre "Smith Fire," Highway 243 south of Banning near mile post 28.

According to Zellerbach, there were two injuries associated with the alleged acts of arson -- a member of an inmate hand crew who suffered minor burns and a firefighter who collapsed from heat exhaustion.

Rutherford allegedly used a "delayed ignition device" to set the fires, according to Zellerbach, who declined to elaborate on the type of device that was used.

However, in drawing parallels to Rutherford's alleged acts, Zellerbach mentioned the Esperanza wildfire, a 41,000-acre blaze ignited in 2006 by Beaumont mechanic Raymond Lee Oyler, who now sits on California's death row for killing five U.S. Forest Service firefighters caught in a tidal flame while trying to defend a home near Twin Pines.

Oyler's preferred device was a cigarette strapped to woodstick matches.Zellerbach said law enforcement surveillance, security videotape captured outside businesses and GPS devices eventually placed on the defendant's vehicles helped build the case against Rutherford, who is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta in lieu of $5 million bail.

The grand jury proceedings against Rutherford were held over four days earlier this month, during which 28 witnesses testified, according to the D.A.'s office.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Rapper Joe Budden arrested

    Rapper Joe Budden arrested

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:52 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:52:27 GMT

    Rapper Joe Budden was arrested by the NYPD on Wednesday in connection with the robbery of his ex-girlfriend's cell phone earlier this month. Police had been looking for the New Jersey resident since Aug. 18 after a heated argument with the woman inside his car in Washington Heights. After he was arrested on Wednesday, Budden apparently Tweeted several times from jail.

    Rapper Joe Budden was arrested by the NYPD on Wednesday in connection with the robbery of his ex-girlfriend's cell phone earlier this month. Police had been looking for the New Jersey resident since Aug. 18 after a heated argument with the woman inside his car in Washington Heights. After he was arrested on Wednesday, Budden apparently Tweeted several times from jail.

  • Soldier who killed herself at Va. Army base was from Yonkers

    Soldier who killed herself at Va. Army base was from Yonkers

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:28 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:28:56 GMT

    The Army has identified the soldier who barricaded herself in a building at a Virginia base and then fatally shot herself in the head.  Fort Lee officials on Wednesday say it was 33-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Paula M. Walker of Yonkers

    The Army has identified the soldier who barricaded herself in a building at a Virginia base and then fatally shot herself in the head.  Fort Lee officials on Wednesday say it was 33-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Paula M. Walker of Yonkers

  • Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:15 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:15:06 GMT
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
  • Share ThisMore>>

  • National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    National Dog Day: Send Us Your Pup Pics

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:17 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:17:59 GMT
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
    The purpose of the holiday is to show appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship.
  • myFOX Tech

    Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3- The Future of Laptops, NOW!

    Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3- The Future of Laptops, NOW!

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 12:14 PM EDT2014-08-26 16:14:57 GMT
    It's no secret that Microsoft has struggled in the hardware department so I can't say whether the Surface Pro 3 will be the hero Microsoft needs but I can say it is the modern computing experience users deserve. I love it and think you should too! Read on to find out why.
    It's no secret that Microsoft has struggled in the hardware department so I can't say whether the Surface Pro 3 will be the hero Microsoft needs but I can say it is the modern computing experience users deserve. I love it and think you should too! Read on to find out why.
  • World's Scariest Selfie: Would You Dare?

    World's Scariest Selfie: Would You Dare?

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:13 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:13:48 GMT
    Rooftopping photographer and Ravens fan Daniel Lau (note the hat), took a selfie from the top of a ridiculously high skyscraper in Hong Kong.
    Rooftopping photographer and Ravens fan Daniel Lau (note the hat), took a selfie from the top of a ridiculously high skyscraper in Hong Kong.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices