An appellate panel Wednesday upheld a man’s conviction for setting an early morning fire that killed two fellow residents and injured another at an unlicensed boarding house in Pasadena.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in Garth Allen Robbins’ trial, including a judge’s decision to allow jurors to hear about the defendant’s jailhouse statement to an undercover Pasadena police detective in which he admitted starting the Nov. 1, 2012, blaze that killed Cliff Juan Clark, 56, and Paul Richard Boyd, 75.
Robbins was convicted in April 2017 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and arson causing great bodily injury.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder in the commission of an arson.
Robbins told the undercover police detective that he spread a can of gasoline around the living room and then lit it ablaze with a barbecue lighter and didn’t stick around to see how it turned out, according to the appellate panel’s ruling. He denied trying to hurt the other people who lived in the boarding house in the 1300 block of El Sereno Avenue, but told the investigator that he was “feeling very happy” after setting the fire, the justices noted.
“The evidence that Robbins started the fire was overwhelming,” according to the 32-page ruling.
Robbins was taken into custody after being found asleep in a pancake restaurant. A bag found on the back of a scooter that he rode contained empty packaging from a lighter that perfectly fit a lighter found outside the house, according to the ruling.
Robbins was sentenced in June 2017 to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.