Man accused in school arson, vandalism enters guilty plea - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man accused in school arson, vandalism enters guilty plea

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CHULA VISTA (CBS 8) - Instead of going through a lengthy trial, a man pleaded guilty Wednesday to burglary and torching Chula Vista High School last year.

Azteco Soto, 26, sat silently in court after pleading guilty to arson and burglary. Soto was charged with felony arson, felony burglary and felony vandalism in connection with the Nov. 28 break-in at Chula Vista High School.

Police say surveillance video captured images of an intruder smashing a lunchroom window with a skateboard, dumping food and starting a fire before turning off the power and causing $5,000 in damages. Detectives recovered fingerprints at the crime scene, eventually leading them to identify jail inmate Soto as the suspected perpetrator. The motive was unclear, though Soto allegedly confessed to police, saying that he was drunk and hungry when he committed the break-in.

Soto has been behind bars since December 2 for a separate burglary of a San Diego liquor store.

His mother didn't want to go on camera, but told CBS News 8's Gene Kang that her son is sorry for causing trouble. She claims it was a first time offense and that he went too far after drinking alcohol. It's a mistake she hopes he'll learn from soon.

However, the District Attorney's office believes any damage of property is a major problem that must be handled swiftly.

"All cases are taken seriously with our office especially ones of arson. It was discussed in our office and defense counsel," said Deputy District Attorney, Laura Vogltanz.

Soto will be sentenced on April 3 in Chula Vista and could face a maximum of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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