Couple guilty in YLP arson trial

After months of testimony, it took a jury just five days to return with a guilty verdict in the Kenneth Jackson and Allison Waterman arson case.

On Thursday, May 8, Jackson, 41, and Waterman, 46, both of Yosemite Lakes Park, were found guilty of arson for their involvement rash of fires taking place between June 8 and June 25 in Yosemite Lakes Park and the surrounding area.

In what Craig Collins, Jackson's defense attorney, called one of the longest trial cases he has seen in his career Deputy District Attorney Sally Moreno said the evidence was clear that both Jackson and Waterman had not only set the fires but conspired to do so.

"Every circumstance confirms the charges as charged in this case. When you go back to deliberate. Take this evidence. Poke this evidence, twist this evidence, manipulate this evidence, listen to what you need to listen to, look at what you need to look at,” Moreno said prior to the verdict. “Circumstantial evidence is difficult to manufacture and it all points in the direction of these two defendants."

During her closing arguments, last Monday, Moreno stated she was confident that the evidence pointed directly to the guilt of the two suspects.

"This has been a very long trial. I have the burden of proof and you have heard it more than once. I am confident when you evaluate the evidence you will find these defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Judge Dale Blea read the guilty verdict in front a distraught Jackson and Waterman, who have both been incarcerated since their arrest nearly a year ago on June 25.

Jackson was found guilty on 21 counts of arson (20 counts of arson of wildlands and one count of arson of an inhabited structure). Waterman was found guilty of six counts of arson of wildlands.

Throughout the trial, testimony was heard from several Cal Fire investigators, forensic specialists and friends of the defendants testifying to the cause of the fires and the whereabouts of Jackson and Waterman during the fires. All of which played a significant role in the decisions of each of the 12 jurors consisting of mainly middle aged and senior citizens.

Sentencing for Jackson and Waterman will be June 6, where the judge will decide whether or not the couple will be forced to pay restitution of more than $1 million. Jackson faces a maximum sentence of 30 years and Waterman faces a maximum sentence of 13 years.