April 16, 2024
Photograph by way of Pexels.com

A enterprise proprietor suspected of setting his meals truck on hearth in Kearny Mesa was ordered Wednesday to face trial on expenses that embody arson and insurance coverage fraud.

Avonte Hartsfield, 26, is accused within the Oct. 3, 2021, blaze that destroyed his meals truck, which prosecutors contend was an intentional hearth he set to gather insurance coverage cash.

A GoFundMe marketing campaign through which he alleged he was a goal of hate crimes additionally raised greater than $102,000 and he additionally obtained a $20,000 donation from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation shortly after the fireplace.

Throughout a preliminary listening to held Wednesday in San Diego Superior Courtroom, San Diego Police Division detectives testified that their investigation into the fireplace yielded surveillance footage from a enterprise close to Hartsfield’s workplace, the place his meals truck was parked the evening it went up in flames.

The meals truck just isn’t seen within the footage, however a person police allege was Hartsfield is seen strolling within the course of the truck. About two minutes later, the identical man walks again the best way he got here and flickering lights may be seen from the world the place the truck was parked.

Detectives additionally testified {that a} automobile resembling Hartsfield’s private automobile may be seen arriving on the scene and leaving quickly after the time of the fireplace.

Hartsfield informed police that within the days main as much as the fireplace, his truck and workplace had been damaged into a number of instances and a few of his gear had been vandalized. He additionally mentioned he discovered a makeshift noose hanging in his workplace.

The preliminary listening to additionally touched upon an incident that occurred a couple of week after the fireplace at a downtown San Diego location Hartsfield had deliberate to open, through which an individual allegedly threw a brick bearing a racial slur by the window. No suspects had been recognized or arrested in that case, in response to testimony.

Hartsfield informed police he had parked the truck exterior his workplace on the evening of the fireplace, went house, then discovered the truck burned down the next day.

A cellphone name between Hartsfield and SDPD detective John Clayton of the division’s Metro Arson Strike Workforce was performed through the listening to, through which Clayton states surveillance footage positioned Hartsfield on the scene across the time of the fireplace.

Hartsfield defined that he had gone again to the workplace to verify on issues as a result of current break-ins.

Hartsfield later informed Clayton that whereas there, a person armed with a gun threatened him, prompting him to run and head house.

After Clayton informed him that he didn’t consider the gunman story, Hartsfield mentioned the fireplace was really began by a rice cooker he left on within the truck. When the rice cooker sparked the fireplace, Hartsfield mentioned he panicked and ran.

Clayton testified {that a} hearth investigator later decided the fireplace couldn’t have been began by the rice cooker as described.

Hartsfield’s GoFundMe web page, which was titled “Rebuilding After a Collection of Hate Crimes,” obtained funds from greater than 2,200 donors, SDPD Crime Analyst Bailey Fice testified. Donors despatched in quantities starting from $5 to $7,600, she mentioned.

District Legal professional’s Workplace Investigator Christopher Bayless testified that GoFundMe ended up refunding about $25,000 out of the whole funds raised.

A State Farm insurance coverage agent testified that State Farm paid out greater than $250,000 in reference to an insurance coverage declare Hartsfield made.

Whereas Hartsfield’s preliminary put up on the GoFundMe web page referred to the fireplace as arson, he offered an replace in March of 2022 that indicated the fireplace was decided to be attributable to an “electrical mishap.”

“Understanding the fireplace was not determined as arson might affect your donation and I needed to present everybody a chance to request a refund,” the replace learn. He was charged by prosecutors later that 12 months.

Hartsfield, who’s representing himself within the felony case, stays out of custody and is due again in court docket subsequent month.

–Metropolis Information Service