Bethany Clough

Now that Livingstone’s has reopened, what about the man accused of setting it on fire?

Fresno man arrested in arson fire at Livingstone’s Restaurant in Tower District

Justin Joseph Silva of Fresno broke into the Tower District restaurant and set the Dec. 20, 2016, blaze, fire investigators say. He was arrested Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, on charges of arson and burglary.
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Justin Joseph Silva of Fresno broke into the Tower District restaurant and set the Dec. 20, 2016, blaze, fire investigators say. He was arrested Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, on charges of arson and burglary.

Tower District hangout and Livingstone’s reopened this week, nearly two years after a fire destroyed its dining room.

The dining room has been rebuilt and the customers are back.

So what happened to the man arrested and accused of setting the fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, 2016?

Justin Joseph Silva is in the Atascadero State Hospital, a secure psychiatric hospital.

Silva hasn’t faced the arson charges in court yet after being arrested for another crime in Kings County. In February 2017, Silva was facing kidnapping and elder abuse charges.

Silva allegedly broke into an elderly woman’s home, kicked and punched her, threatened to kill her, then drove away in a pickup with items stolen from the home, Kings County sheriff’s Cmdr. Mark Bevens said in 2017.

The Hanford Sentinel reported that the woman was his grandmother. He reportedly hit her several times and “threw wine in his grandmother’s face and pulled the phone cord out of the wall to prevent her from calling 911,” the Sentinel reported.

He was found guilty on those charges, said Steve Wright, assistant district attorney in Fresno County whose department is overseeing the charges associated with the fire in Fresno.

But instead of being sentenced on those charges, he was later found not guilty because of his mental state at the time of the crime. An evaluation looked at whether he was a danger to himself or others, Wright said.

“It’s a two-phase trial where they’re found guilty by reason of insanity,” Wright said. “He was found to still be a danger so he was sent of to Atascadero state prison.”

ABC 30 reported at the time that a doctor testified Silva didn’t understand the wrongfulness of his actions toward his grandmother and that he had been treated for mental illness.

He can be held at the hospital for the same time period that he would have served if he were sentenced, Wright said.

“He could potentially spend the rest of his life there at the hospital,” Wright said.

He will be reevaluated every six months.

As for the fire in Fresno, Silva is charged with arson and burglary, both felonies. His case in Fresno County is still pending.

“We’re allowing him to receive some treatment and determine when we’re going to bring him back to face charges,” Wright said.

Silva had been drinking at Livingstone’s bar before the fire and was angry with security personnel, according to his arrest warrant.

He had a grudge against the establishment because he had been beaten up there in 2015, it said. Video cameras caught Silva outside the bar shortly before the fire broke out.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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