EL CAJON (CNS) - An ex-con accused of setting fires that caused more than $200,000 in damage to a Catholic church near Mount Helix must stand trial on arson and vandalism charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Eugene William Volk was also bound over for trial on hate crime allegations, said Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar.
Volk, who prosecutors said has prior "strike" convictions from 1991 vehicular manslaughter and 1988 residential burglary cases, faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted, according to the prosecutor.
Volk, 45, was arrested Oct. 10 as he walked near fire-damaged Santa Sophia Church on San Juan Street in Spring Valley, sheriff's arson Detective Anthony Portillo said.
The fire was reported Oct. 8 about 8 p.m. just north of Campo Road and state Route 94. It took firefighters about 10 minutes to put out the non-injury blaze, which caused extensive damage to the church interior.
Volk allegedly set three separate fires inside the church.
According to testimony Wednesday at the defendant's preliminary hearing, a man who had hired Volk to do some work, and subsequently let him go, said Volk had confronted him before the arson incident and had made disparaging remarks about Catholics.
After his arrest, Volk also made derogatory comments to investigators about the Catholic Church, Aguilar said.
Judge Evan Kirvin found that enough evidence was presented during the hearing to order Volk to stand trial May 5. A readiness conference was set for March 5 in El Cajon.
A man was seriously injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run motorist in the Mira Mesa community of San Diego, a police officer said Sunday.
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San Diego Gas & Electric officials said they expect to lose about 500 megawatts of solar energy production during tomorrow's solar eclipse, but they expect to have enough power on hand to meet demand.
For most, the gravity of Monday’s extraordinary celestial event isn’t appreciated. San Diego public libraries and the University of California, San Diego Extension presented programs on the history and science of solar eclipses to help the public gain a better handle on things.
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Councilman Chris Cate hosted a “bags” tournament Saturday to benefit junior lifeguards and the good deeds of local police.
Evacuation orders affecting hundreds of people were issued in California and Oregon as wildfires neared small towns, including one that's a prime location for viewing the eclipse.