Esperanza fire arsonist to be sentenced today

Raymond Lee Oyler. Photo: Press-Enterprise

Raymond Lee Oyler will be sentenced today to either death or life in prison without parole, the only two options available to Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan.

On March 6 Oyler was convicted of 5 counts of murder and 37 counts of arson and using an arson device in southern California in 2006. One of those fires was the Esperanza fire that killed the 5-person crew of Engine 57 of the San Bernardino National Forest. The firefighters that died were Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Jason McKay, 27, of Apple Valley; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto. The fire burned 43,000 acres and destroyed 39 homes.

During the sentencing hearing which begins this morning at 8:30 in Dept. 32 in Riverside Superior Court, about 10 relatives of the firefighters, 2 for each victim, will be allowed to speak, along with members of Oyler’s family.

If Oyler is sentenced to death, it will be automatically appealed to the state supreme court.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.