Preliminary hearing underway for man accused of lighting double-fatal fire at Pasadena boarding house

PASADENA — A preliminary hearing was underway Wednesday for a man accused of two counts of murder and other crimes for an arson fire that killed two fellow residents of a Pasadena boarding house, officials said.
Garth Allen Robbins, 50, appeared in Pasadena Superior Court in connection with the deadly, fast spreading, early-morning fire that broke out Nov. 1 at the building, 1385 El Sereno Ave., court officials said.
At the hearing, which officials said was expected to last more than a day, Judge Elaine Lu listened to a summary of the evidence from both the prosecution and defense in order to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to order Robbins to stand trial.
Killed in the fire were Cliff Juan Clark, 56, and Paul Richard Boyd, 75, according to Los Angeles District Attorney’s officials. Another resident, 65-year-old Perry Simons, was badly injured in the fire but survived.
Robbins pleaded not guilty last year to two counts of special circumstance murder, one count of arson causing great bodily injury, 15 counts of attempted murder and one count of arson of an inhabited structure.
There were a total of 19 people, including Robbins, living in the three-story building at the time of the fire, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The defendant used “a device designed to accelerate the fire” to ignite the fire, prosecutors said in a written statement, however further details were not released. A motive in the alleged fatal arson was also unclear.
The allegation of multiple murder makes Robbins eligible for the death penalty under California law, however prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment in the case.
The children of Clark have filed a claim against Pasadena, alleging the city was previously aware of code violations and a lack of permits at the facility and should have shut it down prior the the fire.
According to county booking records, Robbins was being held without bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles.

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