A Coastside man accused of setting fire to his landlady’s Miramar house by using shots of vodka and lighter fluid agreed on Monday to accept a plea deal.
Lars Ehlers, 51, of Miramar, pleaded no contest to arson charges on the condition that he serve no further jail time and be released on probation.
Ehlers was arrested for arson and booked at San Mateo County jail last July, where he remained in custody on $100,000 bail.
Ehlers lived for about a year in a rented room at a Miramar house, but his landlady informed him with a 30-day eviction notice in July that she wanted him out.
Deputies were later dispatched to the home after receiving a report that Ehlers was allegedly texting threats to his landlord such as “I’ll teach him not to burn things” and “you kicked me out. I can do lots of things.”
Deputies searched Ehlers' room and found a scorched patch of carpet, as well as burn marks on three wooden rails of an adjacent deck. They concluded that Ehlers had used lighter fluid and vodka to light the small fires. When confronted, Ehlers reportedly said he was having a barbecue.
Ehlers maintained his innocence up until Monday when the case was scheduled to go to a jury trial. Before the trial began, he accepted a plea deal rather than risk being found guilty of arson, which could mean up to eight years in prison, according to the San Mateo County District Attorneys office.
Ehlers will be on probation for three years. He must pay damages of $1,625 to the former landlady and register as an arsonist, according to district attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
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