A man who went on an arson spree in Oildale in Sept. 2017 was found guilty of 12 counts of arson Monday.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2017, Damon Franklin, 42, burned seven structures and five items of personal property during a 32-hour period. Franklin first set a vacant house on fire that also burned an inhabited apartment building next door. He then set five more buildings on fire that day, including the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sharon Place, according to a Kern County District Attorney press release.
Witnesses observed Franklin gathering brush and vegetation on the properties before he set fire to the buildings, the press release said. It was determined he used these and other materials to fuel the fires.
On the morning of Sept. 27, 2017, Franklin set three fires in an alley behind a row of apartment complexes on North Chester Avenue, and he was observed by a witness walking away from the area. Franklin took off his outer clothing before he was arrested by deputies at the Kern County Sheriff's Department.
“The vigilance of witnesses from the community and the hard work of the Kern County Fire Department’s Arson Unit were essential to the swift apprehension of this dangerous, repeat offender," District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in the release. "Thanks to a full and prompt investigation, this serial arsonist was apprehended and convicted before any injuries resulted from his series of dangerous crimes.”
Franklin's sentencing is set for July 9. He faces over 300 years to life in prison due to two prior strike convictions and the 12 arson convictions.