SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 21-year-old woman accused of setting her ex-boyfriend's Southcrest home on fire after a heated argument must stand trial on arson and other charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Yohana Merry Gutierrez faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
She was on probation for illegal use of tear gas when she was arrested Dec. 3 in connection with the fire at the home of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Oscar Fabian Garcia.
Garcia, 26, testified during an hourlong preliminary hearing that they got into a heated argument at her mother's house over cell phone calls and he decided to walk home to his residence on Acacia Street, which takes about 30 minutes.
As Garcia approached his residence, he said he noticed a truck he didn't recognize parked outside, then heard the front door slam and saw Gutierrez running away just before 2 p.m.
"I said, Where do you think you're going?" Garcia testified. "She said, 'Get out of my way!"'
Garcia said he noticed his home was on fire, then saw an explosion and flames coming out a front window. He said Gutierrez ran from the truck parked outside, and he gave chase.
Garcia testified that he lost sight of Gutierrez and went back to his house to help douse the flames, then left to look for her again and saw that she was in police custody nearby.
The witness testified that he kept a two-gallon gas can in his truck because his gas gauge didn't work, and that Gutierrez knew about it.
San Diego police Officer Alan Dyemartin testified he smelled the odor of gasoline coming from the defendant when he arrested her near 38th Street and Beta.
Fire Investigator Lawrence Gordon said the blaze was started when someone poured gasoline on a sofa in a bedroom and the fire spread to a bed, closet and furniture.
Damage was estimated at $130,000.
Judge Jeffrey Fraser ruled that enough evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing for Gutierrez to stand trial on charges of arson, residential burglary and possession of flammable material. She will be back in court Jan. 21 for a readiness conference. Trial was set for Feb. 8.
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