Madera County arsonist who set fires all over Yosemite Lakes Park eligible for parole

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A Madera County arsonist who set fires all over the Yosemite Lakes Park area may be back in the community very soon (KFSN)

A Madera County arsonist who set fires all over the Yosemite Lakes Park area may be back in the community very soon.

Back in 2013 one victim of the fires, Lea Cortes, was oblivious as flames surrounded her parents' home.

"I get a knock on the door from the UPS man who was driving through the area, noticed that the house was on fire."

Cortes panicked when she saw the danger burning all around her.

"I mean, I looked outside the window and I just see smoke and flames."

Firefighters saved her and the home as they battled what turned out to be a 91 acre fire. It was the third of 23 fires prosecutors blamed on Kenneth Jackson and Alice Waterman, and it actually destroyed one home.

Investigators said the fires caused about $1-million in damage, but when Jackson and Waterman went to trial, the charges did not include arson causing injury or arson burning a place where people lived-- the types of arson considered violent under California law.

So even though a jury convicted them both of arson the convictions are considered non-violent. Under Prop 57, anybody convicted of a non-violent crime is eligible for parole after finishing the longest punishment for an individual crime they committed.

Which means instead of serving all 30 years handed down by a judge, Jackson is now eligible for parole after finishing his longest arson sentence. There's no guarantee the parole board will release him, but District Attorney David Linn said he is taking no chances.

"I don't want Mr. Jackson coming back into our community, or Ms. Waterman coming back into the community."

The parole board will take up Jackson's case next month, and although victims cannot attend any hearing, they can submit letters if they contact the District Attorney's Office.

Related Topics:
arsonmadera countyyosemite lakesMadera County
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