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Arsonist gets death penalty for murders of 5 firefighters

  • Story Highlights
  • Raymond Oyler formally handed death sentence for five firefighter deaths
  • Jury convicted Oyler of five counts of first-degree murder, 11 counts of arson
  • 2006 fire outside Los Angeles, California, killed the five firefighters
  • Esperanza fire destroyed 34 homes in Twin Pines area outside Los Angeles
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(CNN) -- A California man convicted of the 2006 arson murders of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters was sentenced to death Friday.

Smoke rises over a flag flying at half-staff for fallen firefighters October 27, 2006, in Banning, California.

Raymond Lee Oyler was sentenced Friday to die for the arson murders of five firefighters.

Raymond Lee Oyler, 38, of Beaumont was convicted in March of five counts of first-degree murder.

The convictions included two special circumstances: that the murders were committed during an arson and that multiple murders were committed.

Oyler also was convicted of 11 counts of arson and 10 counts of use of an incendiary device in those arsons.

The imposition of the death penalty by a judge was a formality. A jury earlier recommended capital punishment for Oyler. Video Watch as Oyler's sentence is read »

Firefighters Mark Loutzenhiser, 44; Jess McLean, 27; Jason McKay, 27; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, died October 26, 2006, during the Esperanza fire outside Los Angeles. Fueled by Santa Ana winds, the wildfire enveloped their engine.

The fifth firefighter, Pablo Cerda, 23, died October 31, 2006, at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he had been taken after suffering burns over 90 percent of his body.

Days before being charged in Esperanza fire, Oyler had been arrested and charged with two counts of arson in a June 2006 fire in the Banning Pass area.


The 41,173-acre Esperanza fire destroyed 34 homes and 20 outbuildings, mainly in the Twin Pines and Poppet Flats areas, which had been under mandatory evacuations.

The firefighters died trying to protect a partially built house in Twin Pines, a rural mountain community.

CNN's Lynn Lamanivong contributed to this report.

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