MADERA COUNTY – After three months of testimony and five days of deliberation, the jury in the Kenneth Jackson/Alice Waterman arson and conspiracy trial has reached its verdict.
Jackson was found guilty on 21 counts of arson, one count each of assault on a peace office and resisting arrest.
Waterman was found guilty on 6 counts of arson. Both defendants were found guilty of conspiracy.
The Coarsegold couple was arrested on June 25, 2013, following a month-long investigation into a rash of suspicious fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area, throughout May and June of last year.
Jackson and Waterman were charged in the complaint with 31 and 10 counts of arson, respectively.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Sally Moreno who, along with John Thackary, prosecuted the case, said they are satisfied with the verdict.
“It’s not perfect, but we are happy with the outcome,” said Moreno. “Cal Fire was outstanding. They were here through the entire process and we worked very well together. I can’t say enough about their efforts toward achieving a successful outcome in this case.”
Jury selection began for this trial in mid-December, and as Judge Dale Blea released the jury from service, he acknowledged their commitment to what is believed to be the longest trial in Madera County history.
“Rarely has a jury been required to commit themselves to the length of time it took to go through the amount of evidence you had before you,” said the judge. “I’m aware of how seriously you took your job and it’s people like you that make this system work. You have my appreciation and respect for the work you’ve put in over the last several months.”
District Attorney Michael Keitz also spoke of his appreciation for the jury’s service, and commended the prosecution team and the Cal Fire investigators for their efforts over the past year.
Keitz noted that arson is one of the toughest crimes to prove, and that everyone has put in countless hours to bring home this verdict.
“The people in Yosemite Lakes Park will receive justice for what has happened in their community. Because of the judgement that has been handed down today, they will be protected and won’t have to worry about the same kind of fire situation.”
Both defendants are scheduled to be back in court on June 6 for sentencing. Jackson faces up to 32 years in prison; Waterman could receive a sentence of up to 12 years.
“Due the serious nature of these crimes, we will be asking the court to impose the maximum penalty allowed by law,” said District Attorney Keitz.