A Fountain Valley man who prosecutors said tried to set a motel room on fire because he was angry he was evicted, was convicted today of one felony count each of arson of an inhabited property and possession of a flammable material with sentencing enhancements for arson with use of an accelerant.
A jury delivered their verdict today against Thanh Van Quang, 39, deciding he did indeed set the fire that eventually caused an explosion inside a room at the Pueblo Motel in Santa Ana room. He was convicted of arson of an inhabited property and possession of a flammable material with sentencing enhancements for arson with use of an accelerant.
Quang defendant has four prior strike convictions from 1998 for voluntary manslaughter, assault with a firearm, and two felony counts of robbery, according to Orange County District Attorney officials.
That qualified Quang to be a “third striker,” a decision left to the judge. As a result he faces a maximum sentence of 36 years to life in state prison. The Court will hear a bifurcated trial on the defendant’s prior convictions at 9 a.m. Dec. 20 in Department C-28, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
The incident at the motel occurred about 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2012. Authorities said Quang picked a fight with the Motel manager who was upset over Quang’s inviting guests into his room.
During the trial, City News Service reported that Quang was told he was being evicted during the argument.
About an hour after the fight, Quang walked to a nearby gas station, purchased a gasoline canister, and filled it with one gallon of gasoline and returned to the motel.
Shortly after his return, about 4 p.m., prosecutors say a loud explosion rocked the motel, causing a fire and Quang’s room and those neighboring his room.
Authorities were able to pull footage of Quang removing property from his room before the explosion. Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.