Jim Porter: Burglar torches neighbor’s house | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: Burglar torches neighbor’s house

Gary Glazier is a bad dude and deservedly will be spending the rest of his life in prison. In 1998, the Artsvelyan family moved into a house in La Crescenta, next door to Glazier. They tried on several occasions to get to know him, even dropping off a bottle of wine, which he refused. Never refuse a good bottle of wine.

In 2000, the Artsvelyans found antifreeze-soaked biscuits and melted chocolate in their yard. Shortly thereafter, their dog died of kidney failure.

House fires

In February 2004, the Artsvelyansand#8217; house was set on fire while they were asleep inside. They escaped unharmed. The detectives and everyone involved suspected Glazier, but his arson trial ended in a hung jury.

Following these deeply disturbing events involving Glazier, Mr. Artsvelyan had hidden surveillance cameras installed in several locations.

Shortly afterward, the Artsvelyans began an extensive remodel of their home, staying at a relativeand#8217;s house nearby. On the night of May 11, while they were gone, they received a call that their house was on fire. They arrived at the scene to find it ablaze. Glazier?

Surveillance cameras

The video tapes showed that at 3:15 a.m. a light came from Glazierand#8217;s property, about 20 feet away. While standing on his own property, Glazier directed a pressurized paint sprayer filled with gasoline into the crawl space under the house, using a long metal pipe with a flame burning on the end of it. He inserted the tip into the crawl space, which ignited, setting the house on fire. Glazier never left his own property.

Police responded. Glazier was detained and his property searched, and surprise, surprise, they found a paint sprayer, gas and a pipe-torch in his garage.

Conviction and appeal

The jury found Glazier guilty of arson and possession of flammable material and attempted first degree burglary.

Glazierand#8217;s sole contention on appeal was that he was not guilty of attempted burglary under the well established burglary-by-instrument doctrine.


The Penal Code recites in part: and#8220;Every person who enters any house and#8230; with intent to commit a and#8230; larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary and#8230; Burglary of an inhabited dwelling house and#8230; is a burglary of the first degree.and#8221; and#8230; and#8220;Inhabitedand#8221; means and#8220;currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not.and#8221; The Artsvelyans temporary absence qualified for burglary.

Glazier argued that projecting a stream of gasoline 20 feet from his own property into the neighborsand#8217; crawl space was not and#8220;entering an inhabited dwelling house.and#8221;

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal found that Glazierand#8217;s flaming torch in the crawl space was a breach of the Artsvelyansand#8217; possessory interest in their home, thus meeting the burglary-by-instrument doctrine. Not exactly like, but similar to using an instrument to reach into a home and remove property. In one case it was found to be burglary when a criminal illegally entered a home with the intent to take a shower and use the victimand#8217;s soap, and in another case it was burglary to enter into a building to turn on the power so an exterior gas pump could be used and#8212; to steal gas.

Glazierand#8217;s invasion of the Artsvelyansand#8217; personal space was a danger to their safety, constituting burglary.


Glazier was sentenced to 8 years in state prison for the arson count, which will be enhanced for the first degree burglary conviction along with possession of flammable material. He should try the prisonand#8217;s antifreeze-soaked biscuits for breakfast.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governor’s appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firmand#8217;s website http://www.portersimon.com.

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