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Santa Ana mechanic sentenced for setting fire to homeless man

February 22, 2010 |  5:11 pm

A Santa Ana mechanic charged with setting fire to a 64-year-old homeless man and his possessions was sentenced Monday to five years in state prison.

Hector Manuel Medina, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of arson causing great bodily injury with an enhancement for using a flammable fluid to light the fire, the Orange Count district attorney's office said.

Prosecutors objected to the five-year sentence. They had sought an 11-year sentence based on the injuries suffered by Ruben Sandoval, who was attacked in an alley Jan. 2 behind an auto repair shop in the 100 block of South Main Street in Santa Ana, the district attorney said.

Medina was accused of dousing Sandoval's shopping cart with gas. Some of the fluid splashed onto Sandoval.

Medina then set fire to the cart, burning all of Sandoval's clothing, food and blankets. Sandoval's beard caught fire, and his hands and face were burned, according to the district attorney.

Sandoval suffered second and third-degree burns. He remains hospitalized and cannot breathe without a respirator, the district attorney said.

Medina was allegedly angry because he had caught Sandoval sleeping in Medina's car on a rainy day in December and warned him not to return to the area, the district attorney said.

-- Robert J. Lopez