Testimony Leads to Man Accused of Arson of Girlfriend’s Property to Stand Trial

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By Darling Gonzalez

MORENO VALLEY, CA – Fire captain specialist Kory McGranahan Friday testified here in Riverside County Superior Court in the preliminary hearing of Jonathan Pitchford, who is charged with arson—that testimony and others would lead to Pitchford having to stand trial.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Bouffard called McGranahan to testify about the Sept. 1 incident, noting that he was responding to a call from a witness who described a fire near the intersection of Suffolk Downs Way and Santa Anita Ave. in Moreno Valley.

The witness reported seeing a fire, said McGranahan, near his residence involving what he believed to be “a shopping cart, a walker, or some other type of rolling device.”

The witness also provided video footage of a subject pushing the cart down the street, lighting the fire, and leaving the area on foot. He said the subject was holding a white object that was later identified to be a bottle of lighter fluid.

McGranahan stated that the witness had previous interactions with the subject, but did not know his name. However, the witness was able to give McGranahan the address where the subject resided.

With the use of the Riverside County database, McGranahan compiled a list of photos of different people who were associated with the residence. Among a list of photos, the witness identified Pitchford through a booking photograph.

In the cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Susan Do questioned McGranahan and asked if the witness had stated specific details about the identification of Pitchford as the subject in the video.

McGranahan then described the witness’ details about the specific characteristics that gave him reason to believe Pitchford was the same person in the video.

“From my recollection he gave some examples of why he believed it to be the same person. I believe he stated something about having the same hairstyle, having the same gait or walk, and having what appeared to be an outfit he had previously seen on him in person, in the video,” said McGranahan.

DDA Bouffard then called a second fire captain specialist, Michael Nelson, to further detail the specificities of the fire that occurred in the video.

With the use of several images from the video, Nelson described that the subject held the lighter fluid over the rolling cart and the fire started thereafter. The fire also spread to the vegetation near the cart itself.

The subject then ran from the cart toward the address on Suffolk Downs Way, said the witness. This address was the same residence the witness had mentioned to McGranahan.

On Sept. 2, Nelson was called to the residence in Suffolk Downs Way by Crystal Miranda because her sister-in-law’s boyfriend, Pitchford, was there.

Nelson arrived at the residence, but Pitchford had left. Nelson then interviewed Miranda about the fire that had occurred on Sept. 1. Miranda mentioned that she had overheard two separate conversations about the fire between her sister-in-law and her boyfriend Pitchford.

DDA Bouffard asked Nelson, “During that interview did she ever communicate to you that she had personally heard Mr. Pitchford say something about the fire that had happened the day before?”

Nelson replied, noting she “overheard a phone conversation where Pitchford, over the phone, admits to lighting…personal property on fire,” and added, allegedly, “Yeah b***h I lit your shit on fire it’s just stuff, it can be replaced.”

Judge Jacqueline Jackson found there to be sufficient evidence for Pitchford to be held to answer at trial and set arraignment to Oct. 15.

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About The Author

Darling is an incoming junior at UCLA, majoring in English and Political Science with an interest in law. She is originally from Bell Gardens, California.

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