Mona Shafer Edwards/AP
In this courtroom sketch, Harry Burkhart, a native of Germany who has been living in Los Angeles and is suspected in a series of arson fires, is restrained by guards as he alternately tries to stand and sit during his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 in Los Angeles. Burkhart was charged with 37 counts of arson in connection with a rash of fires that terrorized Los Angeles over the New Year's weekend. (AP Photo/Mona Shafer Edwards)
After a wobbly court appearance a few weeks ago, Burkhart looked alert and was able to stand on his own and talk to the judge during the arraignment. Burkhart wore a bright yellow jail shirt. He was joined in court by public defender Gustavo Sztraicher and a German translator.
LA Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor set Burkhart’s preliminary hearing for March 1st. Pastor was the judge on the Conrad Murray case.
Harry Burkhart, a German man suspected of setting dozens of arson fires that terrorized Los Angeles over the New Year's weekend, will face a total of 100 charges, authorities said Tuesday.
A criminal complaint against Burkhart, 24, was being amended to include a total of 100 arson-related counts involving 49 fires, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney says investigators have tied 49 car fires to Burkhart.
“Frankly, it’s just fairness to the victims and fairness to this community that we charge Mr. Burkhart with all the crimes that we believe we can prove he committed against all the victims that he terrorized in this arson spree.”
Burkhart was charged with 37 counts earlier this month and held on $2.85 million bail. New charges were filed before Burkhart's court appearance.
Authorities believe Burkhart was angry over his mother's legal troubles. Dorothee Burkhart is wanted in Germany on 19 counts of fraud and is awaiting extradition. She's scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday.
The rash of fires left residents on edge between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 as parked cars were torched during the night in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. Some of the fires spread to carports and nearby buildings, including a former home of Doors singer Jim Morrison. Another one of the blazes was at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, a popular tourist destination bordered by the Walk of Fame.
The complaint alleged the arson was caused by the use of a device designed to accelerate the fire. Court documents revealed an incendiary device was placed under the engine area of cars.