Woman Held after Alleged Arson in West Sac; Police Find Molotov Cocktails with Her

By Alexander Ramirez

WOODLAND, CA — Shayana Haynes was in Yolo County Superior Court Friday for a preliminary hearing on counts of arson, possession of materials with intent to create a destructive device, possession of a destructive device, and possession of destructive device other than fixed ammunition or caliber greater than 60 caliber—all of these counts occurred during an incident on May 11.

From the prosecution side, Deputy District Attorney Jesse Richardson’s first witness was an officer from West Sacramento that was to report for a suspected arson at the Sherwood Harbor Marina. On the scene, he talked to a potential witness to the event.

When the witness was at the south of the marina, they saw smoke around half a mile from where they were, and as they walked toward where the smoke was, they saw a person briefly crouch down and then walk away.

As the witness went toward the spot where the person was crouching, they saw a small fire and proceeded to try and put the fire out, but since they had sandals on, they couldn’t.

While walking toward the smoke, they also saw the suspicious person enter their vehicle, and identified the vehicle and person later.

The next witness was a police officer of West Sacramento who also responded to an arson call on the day of the incident, but this officer instead pulled over a suspicious vehicle that was driving away from the fire after notified by an aerial unit. Inside the vehicle was only defendant Haynes.

Haynes was arrested. Officers found, in the trunk, around nine mason jars with cloths hanging from them and a smell of gasoline emitting from the trunk. The explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team was brought in because of the officers’ belief that they had just found Molotov cocktails.

Richardson called a detective, who was able to get a statement from Haynes, who said that she was walking down a trail, chose to sit down, then noticed smoke and fire behind her. After she found the fire, she left the trail and entered her vehicle to drive on an unknown road.

When confronted, she also admitted to lighting matches in this area, but said that she didn’t intend for anyone to get hurt. When confronted with the Molotov cocktails found in the trunk, Haynes became quiet.

Haynes was also reserved, “almost like she was comforting herself,” during this statement. She also stared off into the distance sometimes, even though the defendant and the witness were in a small room together. All of these details led to the witness considering that Haynes might have a mental illness.

The final witness was a member of the West Sacramento EOD team that responded to the Molotov cocktail threat found in Hayne’s trunk.

They affirmed that the 10 mason jars with gasoline and fabric would serve as suitable Molotov cocktails as long as the container is breakable, a wick is present, and the liquid in the container is able to catch fire with a flashpoint under 150 degrees, to which gasoline has a minus 30 degrees to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit flashpoint.

Notable, the EOD representative explained, is the fact that gasoline itself doesn’t catch fire, but the vapors that the gasoline emits, so if gasoline is left outside long enough it is no longer able to combust. There were no tests to see if the gasoline found in Haynes’ trunk was still combustible.

For closing arguments, defense attorney Jose Gonzalez argued that Haynes is fairly old and with a minimal criminal record. Gonzalez also argues that the Molotov cocktails found in her trunk had the possibility of not being combustible anymore. This, coupled with the fact that Haynes may have a mental illness, led Gonzalez to request that Count 4 be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Prosecutor Richardson argued that Haynes is still a threat to society because she set fire to locations and had access to Molotov cocktails.

Judge Paul Richardson agreed, but also left the reduction of Count 4 open for later argument during later sessions. Judge Richardson also believed that Haynes should talk to a doctor in case there is the possibility of a mental illness being present.

This matter was set to reconvene on July 9.

Alexander Ramirez is a third-year Political Science major at the University of California, Davis. He hopes to hone his writing skills in preparation for the inevitable time of graduation.

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