By Simran Chahal
SACRAMENTO, CA – A judge here in Sacramento County Superior Court Wednesday denied release without bail for a man who allegedly “willfully and maliciously” started a fire because people were “after” him.
In August of this year, Gabriel Zaragoza Aguilar allegedly was responsible for lighting a grass fire. When asked by officers for the reason for the fire, Zaragoza Aguilar was heard replying, “People were trying to kill me and people were after me.”
Assistant Public Defender Kyra Nickell requested the release of Zaragoza Aguilar on his own recognizance because “he is financially unable to afford any amount of bail.” The bail is currently set at $50,000.
Nickell added that the defendant does not have a prior criminal history and this is his first criminal case.
If released while the case is pending, the public defender assured the court that Zaragoza Aguilar will have a place to stay with his aunt in Sacramento, and agreed any level of conditions by the court to assure appearance in court.
Deputy District Attorney Colin Stephenson stated that he was hesitant to release the defendant, and was concerned that the behavior was induced by “drugs” or a “mental health” component.
Since no new information has been provided, Stephenson asked the court if there were any factors that would prevent the defendant from “falling back and doing something like this again.”
After reading the probable cause statement, Judge Joseph Orr stated he concurred with DA Stephenson, adding, “Not only, at this time of the year, are fires of any kind extremely dangerous, but there is some mental health component happening here.”
Judge Orr stated Zaragoza Aguilar will not be released until a doctor’s note specifies whether the behavior was a result of drugs—in which case drug conditions will become applicable—or mental health, in which case the defendant will be advised to receive “mental health help.”
The case is to reconvene on Nov. 3 at 8:30 a.m.