Last Update: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arraignment Postponed for Property Owner Facing Charges for Fire in Converted Barn PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 03 July 2014 03:21

A. Garcia / SFVS

The arraignment for criminal charges against Leonarda Duenez Aguilar, the property owner of a converted barn in Sylmar that caught fire, killing an entire family, was postponed this week.

Scheduling conflicts among lawyers on both sides prevented the proceedings from taking place, as was announced, this Tuesday July 1st. A spokesperson from the City of Los Angeles Attorney's Office, who is handling the case, said there is no date set for the arraignment.

Duenez Aguilar faces charges of failure to install smoke detectors, illegal use of land, illegal construction, lack of electrical permits, lack of plumbing permits, and failure to comply with orders from the Department of Building and Safety. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A. Garcia / SFVS

Duenez Aguilar is the owner of a barn-like structure on the 13800 block of Eldrige Avenue in Sylmar, part of which was being legally used as living quarters for the Estrada family (father Uriel, mother Maria, and their children Isabel, 12 and Alejandro 8), who died on January 13 when the structure caught fire.

The City Attorney's office alleges that the living space in the structure was altered by the property owner to illegally add a bathroom as well as an unpermitted kitchen. Inspectors also reported that there were no smoke alarms on the ceilings or walls in any of the rooms that were used for sleeping or in any areas giving access to those rooms. Inspectors also stated that unapproved electrical wiring had been installed in a large building illegally constructed at the location.

Brian Weinberger, the property owner's lawyer, told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol soon after the tragedy that he had been advised through his client, as well as the person in charge of maintaining the property, whom he did not identify, that “there were indeed two brand new smoke alarms provided for that area of living quarters” where the Estradas lived.