L.A. arson suspect says he's autistic, disabled in asylum papers
Los Angeles arson suspect Harry Burkhart made an impassioned appeal to Canadian authorities for asylum a year ago, saying he was severely disabled, alone and on the run to save his life.
Apologizing for his limited English, the Chechen-born 24-year-old accused in the New Year's weekend spree of arsons asked a federal court in Vancouver to let his mother represent him in their bid for asylum.
"Me and my mother, we are among the most vulnerable in society," Burkhart wrote in the affidavit filed Dec. 6, 2010. "I'm several [sic] disabled, we are alone, I have no father, no family members or friends, they could help us. We are here in Canada just to save our life."
The desperate appeal, replete with references to discrimination in Germany and persecution by neo-Nazis, added detail to the emerging portrait of the arson suspect as a disturbed and defensive loner dependent on a mother running from the law.
Dorothee Burkhart was to appear Friday afternoon before a U.S. magistrate judge in Los Angeles in connection with an extradition effort by the German government. She has been charged with 19 counts of fraud and embezzlement in a Frankfurt court for allegedly pocketing about $35,000 from rental payments and deposits, and failing to pay $10,000 to a Frankfurt plastic surgeon for a 2004 breast-augmentation procedure.
The 53-year-old native of the restive Russian region of Chechnya is being held in federal detention.
Harry Burkhart, who was charged Wednesday with 37 felony counts of arson, is confined to Los Angeles County Jail pending his arraignment on Jan. 24. His mother appeared unaware of his arrest and detention when she made a brief court appearance on Tuesday.
-- Carol J. Williams and Kim Murphy
Photo: Arson suspect Harry Burkhart is arrested Monday in Hollywood. Credit: OnScene.tv