Prosecutors Add 63 Charges Against Arson Suspect

The charges could send German national Harry Burkhart, 24, to prison for life.

Prosecutors added 63 more charges today against a German national suspected in a four-night arson spree in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, bringing to 100 the total number of counts against him.

Harry Burkhart was initially charged Jan. 4 with 37 counts -- including 28 counts of arson of property and nine of arson of an inhabited structure -- in connection with a dozen fires.

Prosecutors added 47 new counts of arson of property, along with 10 additional counts of arson of an inhabited structure and two counts each of arson of an uninhabited structure, attempt to burn and possession of flammable material.

In all, the charges involve 49 fires that caused millions of dollars in property damage, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Burkhart is set to appear this afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Prosecutors are expected to ask that Burkhart's bail -- currently set at $2.85 million -- be raised in light of the new charges.

He is accused of setting fires between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Los Angeles. The criminal complaint includes an allegation that an accelerant was used.

Investigators believe Burkhart acted out of rage against Americans after his Russian-born mother was threatened with deportation. An obscenity-laced outburst he let loose at an extradition hearing for his mother on Dec. 29 helped lead to his capture early Jan. 2.

When images of "a person of interest" were released in connection with the arson fires, a federal law enforcement officer who had witnessed the outburst recognized Burkhart and gave local authorities his name, according to the District Attorney's Office.

According to a court declaration prepared by a Sheriff's Department investigator, Burkhart became enraged during his mother's hearing, shouting things such as "(expletive) all Americans." He was escorted out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.

Prosecutors have said Burkhart became a "more proficient and more efficient" arsonist as the New Year's weekend wore on, with most of the fires set between the early morning hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

He was arrested at Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue by a reserve sheriff's deputy who spotted his minivan. Police said fire-starting materials were found inside the vehicle.

If convicted, Burkhart faces more than 80 years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.


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