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Man accused of lighting fire in Elsinore business pleads not guilty


Last updated 7/19/2018 at 3:58pm

MURRIETA - A 46-year-old man accused of breaking into a Lake Elsinore business and igniting a fire, then attempting to harm himself and sheriff's deputies, pleaded not guilty today to arson and other charges.

Jodie Michael Meza was arrested Monday and booked into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. In addition to arson, the criminal complaint filed against him Wednesday includes one count of burglary and two counts of battery on a peace officer.

He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for July 30 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and lowered the defendant's bail requirement from $55,000 to $10,000.

According to sheriff's Sgt. Chad Thompson, deputies were alerted about 8 a.m. Monday to a break-in at a commercial outlet in the 2400 block of Lakeshore Drive, near Diamond Drive. Meza allegedly crawled into the attic and ignited a fire in the space just before deputies arrived.

"Deputies attempted to arrest (Meza) and remove him from the building,'' the sergeant said. "The suspect refused and attempted to hang himself.''

Deputies prevented Meza from completing the act and wrestled him into handcuffs just as firefighters began dousing the flames, according to Thompson.

He alleged Meza struck the deputies as he was being cuffed. The fire was quickly extinguished, and no one was injured. The defendant has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.


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