Forrest Clark was arraigned (again) at the Santa Ana courthouse on Tuesday January 22 with a plea of not guilty. He faces a possible life sentence for allegedly starting the Holy Fire last August. Clark (aka White Trash Jesus) is being held on $1 million bail, and will stand before Judge Richard King for a pretrial hearing on February 2.
Clark is currently the only suspect charged by the District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), but he’s not the only suspect. Weeks ago, OC Weekly broke the story of an OC Fire Authority (OCFA) investigation which claims Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Milligan may have started the 23,000 acre fire. When questioned, the OCDA’s office denied comment on this report.
Read about the OCFA report here
Clark’s Public Defender Niccole Parness believes this report is being ignored, and claims Clark is innocent.
“[The OCDA is] sure that [Clark] did do it, even though they weren’t there. I only know where the evidence is taking us, and it’s taking us to the fact that [Clark] did not do this,” Parness told the Weekly.
Parness also says DA Todd Spitzer’s inflammatory remarks about Clark, in which he called Clark a “monster” and accused him of “literally [destroying] our forest,” tarnishes Spitzer’s impartiality as a prosecutor. The Public Defender will be filing a recusal motion as a result. In theory, both Spitzer and former DA Tony Rackauckas jumped the gun by proclaiming Clark’s guilt in order to sway the 2018 election in their favor.
“I think he made some very bold comments, and that’s not something a DA should be doing. Your goal is as an objective government official, and that’s obviously not objective,” Parness said.
Prosecutors, however, steadfastly believe that Clark is guilty. Investigators for the US Forestry Service (USFS) and OCFA testified against Clark at a December pretrial hearing, citing threatening phone calls Clark made to his neighbor Frank Romero on the morning of the fire.
Both theories seem plausible, however, the OCDA should investigate all viable suspects if they really want to catch the culprit and not just toss the first guy they find in jail.
If you want to know more about these theories, click here