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Arson suspect's mom back in court, combative

January 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
It was a chaotic scene once again in federal court Tuesday as the mother of suspected arsonist Harry Burkhart faced off with a judge. Dorothee Burkhart went on a rant before her hearing even started.

View an interactive map of the locations of the arson fires.

As soon as Dorothee Burkhart entered the courtroom, she started reading from a prepared statement, telling members of the media that she had been following her case on television.

She took exception with her depiction in courtroom illustrations and said she was intentionally being made to "look like a witch." She threatened to sue anyone who portrayed her negatively.

"I am a good woman," she said, "A friendly woman." Burkhart, who runs a website advertising tantric massage out of her Hollywood apartment, said "I am not a prostitute."

She also claimed she had been abused by U.S. Marshals while in federal custody.

"It appear[s] to be one of numerous unsubstantiated allegations that she made during the court hearing today," said U.S. Justice Dept. spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Dorothee Burkhart is wanted in Germany on fraud charges. Her son, Harry Burkhart, is accused of setting dozens of fires in Los Angeles in the Hollywood area over New Year's weekend. Harry Burkhart remains behind bars.

Tuesday, his mother once again said that her son was mentally ill and not capable of setting the fires.

Eventually, Dorothee was forcibly removed from the courtroom, only to return several minutes later once court was actually in session.

Dorothee, a German national who was born in Russia, interrupted the proceedings several times, telling the judge that if she is extradited to Germany she would be killed.

After more than an hour of interruptions and outbursts, the judge ruled that there is enough evidence to hold Dorothee without bond.

"Because she is a fugitive that's wanted by Germany, the government also made an argument that she potentially poses a flight risk, and potentially is a danger to the community," said Mrozek. "And the judge made those findings."

Dorothee Burkhart is scheduled to return to court January 25, when the judge will review extradition papers which were expected to arrive from Germany by then.

Harry Burkhart is scheduled to be arraigned on arson charges on January 24.

See photos of the fire damage in Hollywood and North Hollywood.


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