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YLP Couple To Stand Trial For Arson

MADERA COUNTY – The judge handed down his decision today in the case against Kenneth Jackson and Allison Waterman on charges of arson and conspiracy in Madera Superior Court.

The couple has been behind bars since their arrest on June 25 after a rash of suspicious fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area. Their preliminary hearing on more than 30 counts finally concluded on Oct. 28, after 18 days of testimony.

On Monday, Nov. 4, Judge Dale Blea ruled that sufficient evidence had been presented to establish that the crime of arson had been committed on all charges, and that Kenneth Jackson committed each of the crimes.

The judge stated that while both the prosecution and the defense agree that this case is largely circumstantial, he considered the totality of the circumstances, including the locations and times of the fires and the testimony of expert witnesses.

He also noted that it is difficult to prove the identity of arsonists because they operate in “stealth,” and the issue is complicated when several people claim responsibility, referring to the juveniles who posted on Facebook and bragged to friends that the fires were their doing.

“Identity may be proved by circumstantial evidence,” said Judge Blea, noting that one cluster of the fires was in the vicinity of their home, within easy walking distance, and the fact that they stopped after the suspects were arrested.

The judge also listed the many instances where Jackson’s vehicle was captured on video within minutes before or after a fire was reported in the area, and that he was at the scene of several of them, including directing traffic at one incident near Oakhurst.

Allison Waterman 6-29-13

Jackson was held to answer on all 31 arson counts, plus 1 count of resisting arrest, 1 count of assault on a peace office, and 1 count of conspiracy.

Waterman will be charged on all 10 counts listed in the indictment against her, plus 1 count of conspiracy.

The judge also ordered that the bail remain as previously set, $1,000,000 for Jackson, and $500,000 for Waterman, and that she return on Nov. 14 for a pre-trial release hearing.

Arraignment on the charges for both defendants was set for Nov. 12.

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