City Heights Arson Suspect Headed to Trial

The case of a man suspected of deliberately setting three fires in the City Heights area will go to trial, a judge decided Friday.

In the preliminary hearing for 24-year-old Rolando Resendiz, one of the victims in a string of fires in City Heights testified on Friday that he and his wife were watching TV as their two children were asleep when, suddenly, flames erupted outside their window.

Through an interpreter, the man testified that he saw two mattresses engulfed in flames.

“I looked out the window and I could see the brightness of the fire,” he said, adding that he then ran outside to douse the flames.

The man’s testimony came during the hearing for Resendiz, accused of deliberately setting that fire and two others in March and April.

Those fires were among more than a dozen in City Heights neighborhoods over a span of a month.

The small fires were deliberately set in dumpsters, alleyways, trash cans, beds of pickup trucks and flatbed trailers in the Mid-City area.

An investigator on the case, Detective Luke Johnson, said he examined several surveillance clips, including one showing the suspect lighting a fire near Landis and Wightman streets.

Johnson testified that the clips showed the suspect take off toward an apartment complex in the 5200 block of Wightman Street.

The investigator said the man in the surveillance clips matched Resendiz's physical description.

Resendiz's mother has said her son was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I told him not to go out to the street and he told me, 'I'm just going to go smoke outside in the back,'" his mother said.

Resendiz was arrested April 3 as he walked near a fire set to the porch of a home in the 5200 block of Ogden Street, police said.

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of arson to an inhabited structure and three counts of arson to property.

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