A Banning man has been indicted by a criminal grand jury and charged with 13 felony counts in connection to nine arson fires in Riverside County and San Bernadino County.
According to court documents, 48-year-old Steven Taylor Rutherford was arraigned on Tuesday at the Hall of Justice in Riverside. He plead not guilty to all 13 counts.
Authorities said Rutherford was connected to the arson fires following a lengthy investigation by Cal Fire and police officers. They caught up with him after monitoring surveillance cameras and following the suspect's movement through legally-placed GPS trackers on his vehicles.
According to the indictment unsealed in court Tuesday, Rutherford was arraigned on the following arson fires.
- Sept. 6, 2011: "Twin Fire", Highway 243 at Twin Pines Road which burned about five acres
- Sept. 7, 2011: "Banning Fire", Highway 243, north of Mt. Edna Road, burning about 55 acres
- Sept. 11, 2011: "Summit Fire", Highway 74 at Mile Marker 55, burning about two acres
- Sept. 11, 2011: "Lambs Fire", Gilman Springs Road, east of Sanderson, burning about 35 acres
- Oct. 22, 2011: "Water Fire", Whitewater Canyon, north of Interstate 15, burning about 20 acres
- Oct. 22, 2011: "Free Fire", Mt. Edna Road, west of Highway 243, burning about 10 acres
- Sept. 9, 2012: "Edna Fire", Highway 243, south of Wesley Street, burning about four acres
- June 28, 2013: "Smith Fire", Highway 243, south of Banning near Mile Post 28, burning about five acres
- June 28, 2013: "Mills Fire", (San Bernardino County) Mill Creek Road at Newport Road in Mentone, burning about 534 acres and causing damage to four properties, including two homes.
In addition to these fires, Rutherford was also charged with using a delayed ignition device and for having a prior arson conviction in 1989. His trial is set to take place on April, 9.
If convicted on all charges, he faces about 80 years in prison, according to court documents. The case is being prosecuted by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.