An 18-year-old man was charged Monday with murder and arson causing great bodily injury in the Thursday house fire that killed a man in Oildale.
Ismael Serna came to court, but his arraignment was delayed to June 2 so the Public Defender's staff can determine if it has any conflicts of interest in representing him.
Serna's mother, Jessie Villarreal, also came to court and said she believes her son would never try to harm someone.
She said witnesses have told her family another man started the fire at 1003 Wistaria St. where 31-year-old Jayson McMurry died from smoke inhalation.
But a brief investigation report in the court file says Serna told deputies he accidentally started the fire.
Serna also said he heard someone was inside the home, which was boarded up and vacant, before the fire started. Serna said he did not intentionally kill McMurry, the reports say.
Deputies initially arrested 22-year-old Michael Wolford in connection with the fire, but Wolford was released from jail on the same day.
Wolford told deputies that Serna and a 17-year-old started the fire, the report says.
Television news reporters have said the fire stemmed from the alleged theft of appliances. Villarreal said the people who allegedly took the appliances had moved out of the home before the fire was started.
McMurry chose to live in the home for shelter, witnesses have said.