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Dorothy Mae Arsonist Gets 625-Year Term

Times Staff Writer

A 21-year-old Mexican immigrant who pleaded guilty to 25 counts of first-degree murder for setting the Dorothy Mae Apartment-Hotel fire in 1982 was sentenced today to 625 years to life in prison.

Humberto de la Torre, who had entered his plea in April in exchange for an agreement by prosecutors not to seek the death penalty, stood emotionless as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert R. Devich pronounced sentence.

Defense attorney Earl Hanson, expressing disbelief, termed the sentence unfair because De La Torre never intended to kill his victims.

“At the time he did this, he had been drinking, he had smoked some marijuana and he went there in a cloudy haze with the intention of vandalism,” said Hanson, who indicated he may appeal. ". . . He did not intend to hurt anybody.”

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Revenge Against Uncle

De la Torre set the fire in the aging Sunset Boulevard apartment-hotel, authorities say, as revenge against his uncle, the manager of the 55-year-old building, who had yelled at him during a family dispute. The victims--several related to the defendant--included 13 children, 11 adults and one fetus.

Devich noted that the case has caused him “a tremendous amount of anxiety and consternation.” He said he decided to impose separate sentences of 25 years to life for each death because “each person killed in that terrible fire has a right to be considered.”

“We were dealing with human beings who for the most part were hard-working people,” the judge said. “I personally never want to see (De La Torre) released and I doubt anyone else would.”

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Walt Lewis said he was not aware of any longer sentence in Los Angeles County. De la Torre could not be paroled for 312 years, he added.


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