Caldor Fire suspects have date set for pretrial
David Scott Smith of Somerset and his son Travis Shane Smith, a Folsom resident — the two men accused of igniting the Caldor Fire in 2021 — are set to make an appearance at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 22 and 23 in El Dorado County Superior Court Department 1.
Lawyers estimate the preliminary hearing will take two days to complete. The hearing will be a review of the charges and available evidence, and will ultimately determine whether the case moves on to trial. A pre-pretrial date of Aug. 11 will confirm the preliminary hearing date.
The May 5 pre-pretrial was not without some jockeying between the defense and prosecution. An order to compel that had been issued to the defense, requiring them to provide the names, references and summaries of anticipated testimony of any expert witnesses, was given a deadline of mid-April, which the defense did not meet. The defense argued, as the preliminary hearing date that had initially been set for May had been vacated, the timing requirement was not binding.
Judge Vicki Ashworth noted the request was unusual for a preliminary hearing, as it was not an actual trial, but emphasized the need to adhere to the limits set, placing a deadline of Aug. 8 for the defense to provide the requested information.
“I don’t want any kind of gamesmanship here; this is a very serious case,” Ashworth emphasized.
The Smiths were identified as the potential fire-starters by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office in 2021. David and Travis have both been charged with recklessly setting the fire that would go on to burn 221,835 acres, causing structures, forest land and personal property to be consumed by flames and also causing great bodily injury to multiple people. The charges are subject to an enhancement due to the extent of structure damage and injuries caused.
The pair additionally received a felony charge for possession of a suppressor for firearms between Aug. 11 and Sept. 23, 2021. Travis also faces a felony charge for reportedly intentionally and illegally converting a firearm to a machine gun or manufacturing a machine gun some time between Aug. 9 and Aug. 14, 2021.
Both men entered not guilty pleas to all counts at their arraignment in December 2021. The father and son are currently out on bond; their initial bails had been set at $1 million each but were lowered to $25,000 for David and $50,000 for Travis in late December 2021.
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