A man who was detained last week on suspicion of starting multiple fires in the Santa Clarita Valley was released from custody after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office rejected his case, according to records available online.
However, within two days of his release, Jeffrey Baker, 49, was arrested once again on suspicion of resisting an officer, battery and exhibiting a deadly weapon, court records indicate. Prior to his pair of arrests last week, a Sheriff’s Department list of repeat offenders obtained by The Signal indicated that Baker has been arrested at least three times prior in the past year.
The most recent pair of arrests began May 19, after Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel were called to the Santa Clara riverbed, just east of the intersection of Bouquet Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road, due to a small blaze spreading in the brush.
The fire had grown to 3 acres within an hour of it breaking out at approximately 7 p.m. that evening, and deputies on the scene witnessed another four to five separate fires break out in addition to the main fire.
Law enforcement decided to establish a containment area in search for a possible arson suspect, and after a passerby pointed out the suspect, Baker was taken into custody and formally arrested on suspicion of starting the fires.
However, on May 21, investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Arson Unit were told that the case against Baker would not be taken to court.
“The only additional information that can be provided is the suspect was arrested for being seen leaving the scene of the fire,” said Deputy Grace Medrano of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, “and when the case was filed at the D.A.’s Office, it was rejected.”
When asked the reason for the case dismissal, officials at the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said on Friday that they did not have information concerning the May 19 arrest.
Baker was released May 23 from law enforcement custody and the arrest was reclassified as a “detainment,” according to Sheriff’s Department records.
He was charged once again in a separate incident that allegedly took place May 25, two days after having been released from custody.
Officials at the D.A.’s Office confirmed that a case had been filed against Baker on Thursday, and that he pleaded not guilty to one of each of the following charges: resisting an officer, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor exhibiting a deadly weapon. The details about the location and nature of the May 25 allegation were not available as of Friday afternoon.
Baker is scheduled to appear once again in court for a pre-preliminary hearing on June 24.