Wayne Allen Huntsman, the 37-year-old accused of starting the devastating King Fire in September 2014 that ultimately burned over 100,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains and caused untold economic and environmental damage in the area, pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of arson with multiple enhancements, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. As the Chronicle reports, he was also personally fined $60 million in restitution, but it's not like anyone will ever see that money.
This was the maximum sentence allowed for the three counts, and enhancements that include causing injury to firefighters and destroying structures.
Huntsman had previously pleaded not guilty to starting the fire, after he was arrested just four days after the blaze began, and weeks before it was fully doused.
As KRON 4 and others reporting, one added detail emerged in the case which immediately convinced authorities of Huntsman's guilt, and that's the video you can see above, shot on Huntsman's smartphone, in which he can be seen casually showing himself hemmed in by the growing fire on all sides, and gesturing with a beer in his hand.
Huntsman, who moved to Pollock Pines in 2013 for work, was rescued by a firefighter shortly after shooting the video on Sept. 13, 2014. He showed the firefighter his video, which later led to his arrest.
Prosecutors say that the video shows two deliberately lit blazes on two sides that Huntsman lit himself. He also appears to be drunk.
The original story behind the wildfire, that it may have been caused by one hunter's campfire, does not appear to be true. It later came out that Hunstman broke into a home in Pollock Pines, near the origin of the fire to call 911. Surveillance video also apparently showed him stealing liquor from a grocery store int he days following the fire prior to his arrest.
Huntsman has a record of grand theft and assault from his native Santa Cruz County, and, most creepily, we just learned in December that he's the brother of a woman now accused in the deaths of two small children, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, whose bodies were found in a storage unit in Redding, California. 39-year-old Tami Joy Huntsman was arrested along with her 17-year-old lover in the disturbing case in which the two children may have been murdered in Salinas, and then transported north.