Mother of arson suspect wants to meet with son, attorney says
Dorothee Burkhart, 53, remains in federal lockup pending a hearing for her extradition to Germany based on fraud charges she faces there.
Her 24-year-old son, Harry, is in state custody at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles, now facing 100 charges for a series of 49 fires he is accused of setting between Dec. 30 and Jan 2.
Michael Belter, a court-appointed panel lawyer for the mother, said the two have had no contact since the younger Burkhart’s arrest more than three weeks ago.
He said he is trying to arrange a meeting, but said he did not know how likely it was.
“She’s very distressed not being able to be with her son,” he said.
Dorothee Burkhart appeared in federal court Wednesday morning for a status hearing on her extradition case. Asst. U.S. Atty Cathy Ostiller told Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle the German government would be filing a formal request for extradition within the 40-day deadline on Feb 6.
Belter told the judge he intended on asking for reconsideration of Nagle’s earlier order that his client should be held without bail while awaiting her hearing. The judge cautioned that bail is not granted in extradition matters except in very “limited and narrowly defined” circumstances, and indicated it wasn’t likely she would allow the woman to go free on bail.
“In this case, given Ms. Burkhart’s vehement opposition to her extradition to Germany, this court has a heightened concern about the risk of flight,” she said.
In previous court appearances, Dorothee Burkhart has claimed her and her son’s innocence, saying they were being pursued by Nazis and that they would be killed upon return to Germany.
Earlier this month, she asked people in the audience to convey a message to her son: "Tell him please, I love him very much and I will never leave him alone to die here."
-- Victoria Kim
Image: Dorothee Burkhart appears in federal court Jan 3. Credit: Bill Robles / Associated Press