Menifee man charged with arson, animal cruelty in home fire that killed a dog and a bird

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A 62-year-old Menifee man is facing arson and animal cruelty charges after allegedly setting fire to a home in the city, killing a dog and a bird, prosecutors said Friday.

Sean Joshua Halas was on probation in connection with a second-degree attempted murder conviction when he allegedly set fire to a home along Shoreline Drive on June 24, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Months later, the alleged fugitive was arrested at a motel in Bullhead City, Arizona on Tuesday and is awaiting extradition to California, prosecutors said.

Witnesses told authorities a pickup truck left the scene about 30 seconds before a fiery explosion in the back of the home earlier this year, prosecutors said. The description given matched the appearance of a truck driven by Halas, prosecutors said.

Halas lived at the home before being convicted of attempted second-degree murder, domestic violence and assault causing great bodily injury on Jan. 22, according to prosecutors. He lived there again after being released from custody, less than a week before the fire, prosecutors said.

Authorities did not release any other details about Halas’s ties to the home or say whether anyone else lived there. They also did not give a possible motive.

When Halas was sentenced in June, prosecutors asked for him to serve nine years but the judge delivered a sentence of three years’ probation and 365 days in custody with credit for time served, the DA’s office said.

A Riverside County Superior Court judge issued a warrant for Halas’s arrest in connection with the fire on July 31. Investigators with the Fugitive Apprehension Unit of the DA’s office worked to track Halas down as he went on the run, according to authorities. They learned he was in Arizona and found him at a motel by a river in Bullhead City, prosecutors said.

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