Prosecutors Drop Case in Courthouse Fire

Prosecutors dropped their case against a Montebello man Thursday after a Superior Court jury deadlocked 11 to 1 for his acquittal on charges that he set fire to the East Los Angeles Municipal Court building last summer.

Judge Bert Glennon Jr. declared a mistrial Wednesday after the two-week trial of Rudy Vargas, 24. Vargas was arrested in January and had been held in county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

His lawyer, William S. Pitman, maintained that his client had been identified by a witness by an "extremely suggestive" photographic lineup and had been victimized by an "incompetent" investigation of last July's courthouse burning.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Sergio Gonzalez asked the court to dismiss the charges against Vargas in the "interest of justice." After talking to jurors, the prosecutor said, it appeared that the case probably would "hang perpetually."

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