A 27-year-old man who fire-bombed a Riverside resident’s vehicle, allegedly with the aid of two women, was sentenced Thursday to three years in state prison.
Carlos Octavio Orta of Corona pleaded guilty last month to arson, possession of an incendiary device and conspiracy.
The plea was directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gail O’Rane, without input or objection from the District Attorney’s Office. No charges were dismissed in exchange for the defendant’s admissions.
Orta’s two alleged cohorts, Daniela Michelle Castro Nunez, 23, and Alexis Monique Garcia, 21, both of Riverside, are charged separately.
Nunez pleaded not guilty on April 27 to arson, attempted arson, conspiracy and unlawful possession of a destructive device. She’s free on a $50,000 bond and is due in court on May 18. Garcia is charged with conspiracy and possession of a destructive device. She’s free on a $10,000 bond and is slated to be arraigned on June 27.
According to Riverside police spokesman Officer Javier Cabrera, in the predawn hours of April 2, Orta allegedly rigged a plastic gas can to a sedan parked beneath a carport outside an apartment complex in the 2700 block of Atlanta Avenue, near Massachusetts Avenue.
The device triggered a blaze that enveloped a car belonging to a man identified in court documents only as “Alejandro A.,” prompting 911 calls, Cabrera said.
He said that fire crews extinguished the flames minutes later, after which officers and firefighters spotted the mechanism, which was emitting a “humming sound.”
The bomb squad was summoned and dismantled the contraption, confirming that it was an “improvised incendiary device,” according to Cabrera.
In the ensuing investigation, to which Cal Fire arson investigators and FBI agents contributed, Orta was identified as the assailant, the police spokesman said.
On April 8, a search warrant was served at the defendant’s residence on E Street, where officers seized “multiple firearms, ammunition and bomb-making components like the ones used in the improvised incendiary device,” Cabrera said.
Orta, who has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County, was taken into custody without incident.
According to police, detectives continued to develop leads after the defendant’s arrest, culminating in warrants being obtained and served April 23 on Garcia and Nunez, neither of whom have prior felony convictions.
A possible motive for the attack was not disclosed.