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Julia Harper Pleads No Contest to Blaze that Injured Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern

Suspect's attorney says client wants to spare Cpt. Dern from testifying at trial

Julia Harper pleaded no contest to setting the fire that critically injured Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern.  Harper was arrested in April, following a fire at a central Fresno home in March. Captain Dern was fighting the blaze, when he fell through the roof of the home and was badly burned on 70% of his body.
 
When harper was arrested, authorities said she admitted to setting the fire.  They and also said she had been involved in a suspicious fire in Bakersfield in 2009.
 
Fresno Fire chief Kerri Donis was happy with Thursday's outcome, calling it a relief not just for Captain Dern, but for the entire department.
 
"I'm pleased that her conscience got the best of this worst scenario, so that's good and this is kind of the closure process for us and really it's the moving on process," says Chief Donis.
 
It's also a moving on process for Captain Dern, who's still on the road to recovery at home after spending months in the hospital and undergoing many surgeries.
 
As part of her conviction, Harper will be required to register as an arsonist and faces seven years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced January 11th.
 
Harper's attorney Mark Siegel tells Eyewitness News his client  didn't want to put Pete Dern through anymore anguish with a drawn out trial.

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