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Homeland man found guilty of setting series of arson fires

Marco Antonio Aispuro Sr., 44, of Homeland, was found guilty Friday, July 21, of multiple counts of arson. (Photo courtesy of Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department)
An ex-con who ignited multiple fires over a 10-day span around Homeland was convicted Friday, July 21, of 14 counts of arson.
After four days of deliberations, a jury found 44-year-old Marco Antonio Aispuro guilty of perpetrating the series of fires that began May 10, 2016, and ended with his arrest 10 days later.
Along with the arson counts, jurors convicted Aispuro of sentence-enhancing allegations of using an incendiary device to start a fire and setting most of the fires within an area under a weather-related state of emergency declared by the governor.
Aispuro showed no reaction as the verdicts were read but did turn to look at family members gathered in the courtroom.
Aispuro is facing up to 147 years in state prison. He’s in custody at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, with bail set at $500,000. A sentencing date has not been set.
According to prosecutors, the convicted felon went on an arson spree that destroyed two sheds, significantly damaged two mobile homes and a utility pole, and scorched land abutting several churches.
According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Melanie Deutsch, the defendant’s first target was the area of Highway 74 and Leon Road , where the sheds burned down. That same day, Aispuro set fire to vegetation along Highway 74 at Naumann Avenue, but county fire crews quickly knocked it down.
Aispuro’s estranged adult son resided near the location and encountered Aispuro in his back yard, sparking a confrontation, at the end of which Aispuro ran away, according to the brief.
Aispuro later torched bushes around the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Homeland, along with vegetation near the Romoland Unified School District headquarters and Hemet Fence, in the 25900 block of Juniper Flats Road, Deutsch said.
In each instance, county fire crews responded and doused the flames in under a half-hour.
On May 15, Aispuro ignited a spot fire at Juniper Flats Road and Oak Creek Drive, but again crews contained it within minutes.
According to court papers, a cluster of fires were lit  May 20 near the Community First Church of God on Homeland Avenue — which itself had been gutted by a fire April 30 that Aispuro was not charged with setting. A mattress fire was set behind a residence on nearby Neer Street, the prosecution stated.
None of the fires exceeded more than a couple of hundred square feet.
Arson and sheriff’s investigators began collecting evidence at the outset of the arson series, with clues pointing to Aispuro. A key piece of evidence was a moniker — “2 hard” — spray-painted on structures and other objects where the fires occurred. The defendant’s children attributed the moniker to him, prosecutors said.
Shoe prints found at several locations also were matched to Aispuro, Deutsch said, and he was arrested without incident at his mother’s residence. He initially was charged with setting the three May 20 fires, then was linked to more.
According to court records, the defendant has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, battery, auto theft and making criminal threats.

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