Arson Suspect Denies Guilt in Drug, Weapons Counts

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A cancer-stricken Northridge man who officials say is a suspect in two arson fires pleaded not guilty Friday to four felony drug and weapons charges.

Robert Bruce Williams, 32, who has not been charged with setting the fires, entered the plea before Commissioner Charles L. Peven in San Fernando Municipal Court. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6.

The district attorney’s office charged Williams Wednesday with illegal possession of marijuana, cocaine, a silencer and exploding bullets near a place of habitation. The items were found by Los Angeles city fire and police investigators who raided Williams’ Superior Street house Jan. 18 in search of clues to two deliberately set fires.


The fires, on Jan. 8 and 16, caused an estimated $2.6-million damage to an apartment project under construction a block from the house Williams shares with four other men.

Williams was arrested immediately after the raid. Fire officials said he was a suspect in both fires, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Ken Barshop said there is insufficient evidence to file charges.

Authorities are awaiting the results of laboratory tests to determine whether flammable materials found in Williams’ room match those used to start the fire, Barshop said.

Williams’ arraignment on the drug and weapons charges was delayed for two days so that he could receive chemotherapy treatments.

He remained in County Jail Friday with bail set at $68,500.