Man faces 300 years to life for arson convictions

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man who set fire to several buildings during a 32-hour period in 2017 has been found guilty of multiple counts of arson and faces 300 years to life in prison.

Damon Franklin, 42, is set to be sentenced July 9 following his conviction Tuesday on 12 counts of arson. He has two prior “strike” convictions.

“Franklin left behind a trail of destruction that ultimately led to his arrest,” prosecutors said in a news release.

In September 2017, Franklin set fires at eight separate locations that burned seven structures and five items of personal property, according to prosecutors. The buildings burned included the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sharon Place and an inhabited apartment building.

Witnesses saw Franklin gathering brush and vegetation on the targeted properties, prosecutors said. One witness reported seeing Franklin walking quickly away from an area where three fires were set in an alley behind a row of apartment complexes on North Chester Avenue.

Franklin removed his outer clothing before deputies arrived at his location and arrested him, according to the release.

“The vigilance of witnesses from the community and the hard work of the Kern County Fire Department’s Arson Unit were essential to the swift apprehension of this dangerous, repeat offender,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.

“Thanks to a full and prompt investigation, this serial arsonist was apprehended and convicted before any injuries resulted from his series of dangerous crimes,” she said.

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