Suspected Los Angeles arsonist tries to get deported mother's help during trial

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A suspected serial arsonist who spread terror through Los Angeles wants help from his deported mother as he stands trial. (KABC)

A suspected serial arsonist who spread terror through Los Angeles wants help from his deported mother as he stands trial.

The defendant, Harry Burkhart, entered the U.S. illegally after his mother, Dorothee Burkhart, escaped from custody in Germany.

Now, as he stands accused of 49 felonies, she is sending faxes to the court.

She cannot come back to the states because, according to prosecutors, she is on the "Do Not Fly List" following convictions of passport fraud.

Burkhart, who faces a mountain of evidence against him, called out to Judge George Lomeli on Thursday after the jury left to deliberate his fate.

"Mr. Lomeli, when can I give my statement to the jury?" Burkhart asked.

The judge reminded Burkhart that he had elected not to testify.

The 25-year old entered an insanity plea, and his defense had earlier hoped that his mother could testify about his mental state.

Before she was deported in 2013, she was brought to Los Angeles Superior Court by federal marshals.
The plan was to videotape her testimony so it could be presented to the jury.

But the plan dissolved when she erupted in a stream of outbursts and began crying. When the clerk tried to swear her in, she refused, saying she only wanted to see her son in court.

Dorothee Burkhart has now served her prison term on 19 counts of fraud and embezzlement, and her son's defense chose not to call her in any phase of the present trial.

In the meantime, the jury heard final arguments in the trial. The prosecutor showed pictures of barbecue igniters and other fire-starting items in Burkhart's car when he was arrested.

Burkhart's defense attorney said someone else could have started the fires.

"Copycats could be responsible. This is Los Angeles, it's one of the largest cities in the world. There are plenty of opportunists," attorney Steve Schoenfield said.

But the prosecution points to what happened immediately after Burkhart's arrest - no more fires.

If the jury finds Burkhart guilty, he will face a second trial to determine his sanity.
Related Topics:
newsdeportationarsonarson investigationtrialcourt caseLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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