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Suspects arrested in connection with starting Caldor Fire enter 'not guilty' plea

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 12/14/2021
Suspects arrested in connection with starting Caldor Fire enter 'not guilty' plea © Provided by KCRA Sacramento Suspects arrested in connection with starting Caldor Fire enter 'not guilty' plea

UPDATE DEC. 13 9:26 P.M.

An attorney for the suspects charged in connection with causing the Caldor Fire said a judge reduced their bails, which were originally set at $1 million each. Travis Smith's bail was reduced to $50,000 while David Smith's was reduced to $25,000.

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Both father and son have officially posted bail, according to their attorney.

ORIGINAL STORY

The two men accused of starting the Caldor Fire appeared in court on Zoom on Friday. Defense attorneys entered 'not guilty' pleas to all charges.

Court documents released this week by the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office allege that 32-year-old Travis Smith of Folsom and 66-year-old David Smith of Somerset "did unlawfully and recklessly set fire to and burn and cause to be burned a structure, forest land, or personal property and did cause great bodily injury."

"They are completely innocent and have no intention nor involved in any setting of a fire," said lawyer Linda Parisi, representing David Smith. "They've lived here their whole lives, they don't want to set it on fire."

Outside of the El Dorado County courthouse, the defense again made the argument that the Smiths called 911 when they saw the flames.

"They kept calling back, there's a fire, do something about it, notified other people," Parisi said. "That's not the behavior of someone behaving recklessly. That's responsible conduct."


Video: Family Fought To Save Christmas Tree Farm From Caldor Fire (CBS Sacramento)

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"They have been completely upset about the fire that took place since the day they first spotted it," attorney Mark Reichel said. "They don't have any remorse because they didn't do anything wrong."

The defense tells KCRA 3 it is also planning to raise questions about firefighters' response time to the flames.

"Agencies could have let go for a little while," Reichel said. "But the question is ... do you then hold these individuals responsible for that? We hope to gather that type of evidence on the delay, why the delay, and what was the effect of the delay."

The Caldor Fire destroyed hundreds of homes and two-thirds of the town of Grizzly Flats. Many survivors have moved out of the area or are living in travel trailers to get by. Others are starting the long road to rebuilding.

The defense expects to receive the evidence gathered by the prosecution on Saturday.

KCRA 3 also reached out to the District Attorney's Office. A spokesperson said they did not wish to comment at this time.

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