Crime

Livingstone’s arson suspect jailed on Kings County kidnap charges

Kings County jail booking photo of Justin Joseph Silva
Kings County jail booking photo of Justin Joseph Silva KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Justin Joseph Silva, arrested in January and charged with arson in a fire that gutted Livingstone’s restaurant in Fresno’s Tower District, is in Kings County Jail on kidnapping and elder abuse charges.

Silva, 33, who faced an arraignment date Thursday in Fresno Superior Court on the arson charges, was booked on a bail of $275,000 in the Kings County lockup. He was arraigned in Kings County Superior Court on Friday morning, where Judge Robert Shane Burns set a pretrial hearing for Feb. 10.

According to Kings County sheriff’s Cmdr. Mark Bevens, Silva was arrested early Tuesday morning. 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.

The truck became stuck in mud, and Silva was taken into custody. Bevens said he could not provide details about the connection between the victim and Silva other than to say that the alleged crime was “not random.”

En route to the Kings County Jail, Silva told a deputy he was “going to trial in Fresno for being accused of setting fires,” but Bevens said deputies were not aware until reading news media reports that the fire in question involved Livingstone’s, although deputies were aware of the Tower District fire.

The Kings County charges include kidnapping, causing harm or death to an elder or dependent adult, burglary, receiving stolen property and making criminal threats.

Silva was arrested Jan. 19 by Fresno fire investigators, who identified him as the suspect responsible for setting Livingstone’s on fire early on the morning of Dec. 20.

A warrant issued for his arrest indicated Silva, who had been drinking in the bar the night before, was angry with security personnel and had a grudge against the establishment because he had been beaten up there in 2015. The warrant described video evidence from nearby cameras that caught Silva outside the bar shortly before the fire broke out.

Steve Wright, a Fresno County assistant district attorney, said his office probably would try to coordinate prosecution of Silva with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

He also said the arrest in that county could slow prosecution of the Livingstone’s arson case. It is possible, Wright said, that Fresno County prosecutors might ask to try their case first.

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