The Board of Supervisors today reinstated a $10,000 reward to pay witnesses who helped convict a man for setting a fire that destroyed a Catholic church in Hacienda Heights.
The fire, reported just after midnight on April 16, 2011, destroyed St. John Vianney Catholic Church at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. It also damaged an adjacent rectory, from which two sleeping priests narrowly escaped, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff's investigators determined that the fire was intentionally set and damage was estimated at more than $3 million.
Hacienda Heights resident Gregory Yusuke Shiga was arrested for the arson about 13 months later and sentenced in July to 18 years to life in state prison.
No motive was disclosed during Shiga's trial, though he was deemed mentally fit and denied being mentally ill. He also was ordered to pay the church $8.9 million, though it was unlikely he would ever be able to pay that much.
Shiga broke into the church's sanctuary, saturated toilet paper rolls with a flammable liquid and placed them around the the church, according to Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose. He also opened windows and sprayed an accelerant on the church's walls and ceiling, prosecutors said.
Five witnesses supplied information that led to Shiga's conviction, according to Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich, who recommended reinstating the reward.
The board's unanimous vote will allow the witnesses to file a claim for a portion of the $10,000.
--City News Service