Crime & Justice

Santa Ana mechanic to be arraigned for lighting homeless man on fire

Auto mechanic Hector Manuel Medina of Santa Ana is scheduled to be arraigned today, charged with dousing a homeless man's shopping cart with gasoline and lighting the man and his possessions on fire.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, on Jan. 2, 2010, Medina saw 64-year-old homeless man Ruben Sandoval in the alley behind the auto shop he was working at, Firestone Complete Auto Care in Santa Ana. Medina allegedly became angry that Sandoval was back after Medina had previously warned him to leave and not return after finding Sandoval sleeping in his car on a rainy day two weeks earlier.

Medina is accused of taking a gas canister from the garage and dousing Sandoval's shopping cart with gasoline, some of which splashed onto Sandoval. Medina then allegedly lit the cart on fire with a match.

Flames from the cart jumped and lit Sandoval's beard on fire. Sandoval attempted to put out the flames on his face, causing his hands to catch fire.

One of Medina's coworkers at the auto shop called 911. Sandoval suffered second and third degree burns to his body, face, and hands. The contents of his cart were destroyed, including his clothes, blankets, and food. Medina allegedly fled the scene, but was arrested shortly afterward near his home.

If convicted, Medina faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. He is being held on $100,000 bail.