Accused Temecula Arsonist Exonerated

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Camarata Law client Ron James, Temecula resident and business owner, is exonerated after Riverside Superior Court Case SWF1301945 is dismissed upon discovery of exculpatory evidence.

The nightmare is finally over for Temecula resident and business owner, Ron James.

After 9 months of accusations and court appearances, all criminal charges stemming from a Temecula fire back in October 2012 have been dismissed in Riverside Superior Court Case SWF1301945.

“It’s unfortunate that it took this long for the truth to come out and be recognized, but we are glad it’s over, James’ attorney, Joseph Camarata stated after leaving court.

“Mr. James is a very lucky and unlucky man. He is lucky that he had the support of his family and friends and he is lucky because the Deputy District Attorney handling the prosecution is a very hardworking and ethical lawyer. Not many DAs would go to the lengths [Deputy District Attorney Al Kim] did to investigate and evaluate his case. Mr. James is unlucky because he never would have been in this position if the original Cal Fire investigators had done their job correctly in the beginning,” Camarata said.

The investigation Attorney Camarata is referring to is the investigation that led to the arrest of Ron James on October 23, 2012, the night of the fire.

According to Riverside County Court Superior documents, at around 6:00 pm, authorities were notified that a fire had broken out in the living room of a house owned by Mr. James and his wife Marene in the De Luz area of Temecula. Two of Marene’s family members were inside the home when the fire was discovered and contacted 911. The fire was contained to the living room but caused substantial damage to the large home. Riverside Sheriff and Cal Fire officers arrived after the fire was extinguished to determine the cause and origin. When the cause could not be determined, Cal Fire immediately turned their attention to Ron James as a suspect because he had been in the house prior to the fire. However, according to Cal Fire reports, it’s what Cal Fire investigators Captain Chris Palmer and Captain David Laclair didn’t do that led to Mr. James’ arrest.

Mr. James' legal team led by Attorney Joseph Camarata and his investigator, Tom Hicks, pored over the evidence in the case to determine how the fire started and whether it was intentional or accidental. During that review Camarata learned that there were additional video cameras in the house that were not reviewed by Cal Fire investigators. It was the video from one of those cameras that proved what Ron James had been saying all along, “I didn’t start a fire. I’m innocent.”

Camarata explained, “one of the cameras that Cal Fire knew about but neglected to analyze was sitting in a box of items that had been packed up after the fire. In that camera was a disk that contained several video files from the interior of the house, specifically the family room. A room that did not burn or sustain much damage relative to the living room. Those video files proved that Ron James could not have possibly started a fire on that day, or that he could have even set foot in the living room. Had the video been reviewed how and when it should have, the day of the fire, Ron James never would have been arrested and erroneously charged with these crimes. We are lucky these cameras weren’t lost, destroyed, or worse.”

James agreed. “I’m fortunate that this is all behind me. Now I can focus my time and attention on rebuilding my businesses and undoing what Captain Palmer and Cal Fire did to my life.”

Ron James doesn't know if he is lucky or unlucky. All he knows is that he is innocent.

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Joseph Camarata
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