An ex-con nicknamed “2 hard” who ignited multiple fires over a 10-day span in suburban area of Riverside County was convicted Friday of 14 counts of arson.
After four days of deliberations, an eight-woman, four-man jury found 44- year-old Marco Antonio Aispuro guilty of perpetrating the fire series that began on May 10, 2016 near the town of Homeland, about half-way between Temecula and Moreno Valley, and ended with his arrest 10 days later.
Along with the arson counts, jurors convicted Aispuro of sentence- enhancing allegations of using an incendiary device to start a fire and setting most of the fires within an area under a weather-related state of emergency declared by the governor.
Aispuro showed no reaction as the verdicts were read but did turn to look at family members gathered in the courtroom.
Arson and sheriff’s investigators began collecting evidence at the outset of the arson series, with clues pointing to Aispuro. A key piece of evidence was a moniker — “2 hard” — spray-painted on structures and other objects where the fires occurred. The defendant’s children attributed the moniker to him, prosecutors said.
Shoe prints found at several locations were also matched to Aispuro, and he was arrested without incident at his mother’s residence.
According to court records, the defendant has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, battery, auto theft and making criminal threats. However, there was no word of a motive for his crimes, although an initial fire was set near his estranged son’s residence.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Helgesen scheduled a pre- sentencing hearing for July 27 to discuss unresolved matters pending in the case. The prosecution and defense indicated they will request a sentencing hearing in October at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Aispuro is facing 147 years in state prison. He’s being held on $500,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
According to prosecutors, the convicted felon went on an arson spree that destroyed two sheds, significantly damaged two mobile homes, as well as a utility pole, and scorched land abutting several churches.
According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Melanie Deutsch, the defendant’s first target was the area of state Route 74 and Leon Road, where the sheds burned down. That same day, Aispuro set fire to vegetation along the 74 at Naumann Avenue, but county fire crews quickly knocked it down.
Aispuro’s adult son resided near the location and encountered the defendant in his back yard, sparking a confrontation between the estranged pair, at the end of which the defendant ran away, according to the brief.
Aispuro later torched bushes around the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Homeland, along with vegetation near the Romoland Unified School District headquarters and Hemet Fence, in the 25900 block of Juniper Flats Road, Deutsch said.
In each instance, county fire crews responded and doused the flames in under a half-hour.
On May 15, Aispuro ignited a spot fire at Juniper Flats Road and Oak Creek Drive, but again crews contained it within minutes.
According to court papers, a cluster of fires were lit near the Community First Church of God on Homeland Avenue, damaging a detached garage. A mattress fire was set behind a residence on nearby Neer Street, the prosecution stated.
None of the fires exceeded more than a couple hundred square feet.
–City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: