PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Ramon Figueroa and John Jones have been waiting for years to hear the ruling given by Judge Hugo Loza on Monday.
However, they say the last thing they were expecting to hear was the murder charges being dropped against the two teenagers accused of starting a fire that killed firefighter Patrick Jones and Captain Ray Figueroa.
“If the judge was going to be the defense, why did we have to wait for so long? It’s as if the judge had a time clock on this thing and he wanted to rush it, wanted it done,” said John Jones, the father of Patrick Jones.
Judge Loza said the critical evidence was the recording of what the two boys said in the back of a patrol car while being taken into custody. One said he knew he lit a paper with a lighter – and the other spoke about how he didn’t light the fire.
Jones said he believes the recording proves the opposite: that both teens are guilty.
“Yes, one may have lit it, but nobody yelled ‘fire’ when they ran out that door. Then they had the wherewithal to lie to the police right out of the gate. I remember when I was 13, even though it was a long time ago. Police knocked at my door, I would never, ever lie,” he said.
Jones and Figueroa said they also disagree with Judge Loza’s statement that their sons died from not being able to breathe because of their equipment.
“The breathing apparatuses did not start the fire. The defendants did,” said Ramon Figueroa, the father of Captain Figueroa.
The teenager who is facing arson charges will return to court for a dispositional hearing on September 28 – a day Jones and Figueroa say they won’t miss.
“I ain’t missed one day in court yet,” Jones said.
Judge Loza can sentence the teen up to seventeen years and eight months but under California law, they can only stay in prison until the age of 25.