Last week, Riverside County Judge Becky Dugan continued the trial and appeal until March 2012 for Christopher V. Hillman, 48, of Hesperia, brother-in-law of convicted arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler. In July 2010, Hillman had been found guilty of seven counts of attempting to influence a juror during the Oyler trial.
At Hillman’s August 2010 sentencing hearing, Judge Larrie Brainard questioned Hillman’s defense during the trial and stated that a new trial may be in his best interest.
At that time, he stated Hillman should have a new counsel to investigate whether a new trial motion should be brought. Judge Brainard stated he had reason to believe that Hillman’s original counsel was ineffective and said a new trial might be in Hillman’s best interest.
In March 2009, Oyler was found guilty of igniting the 2005 Esperanza Fire, which killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.
Oyler’s month-long trial was interrupted one day when jurors discovered and reported fliers on their car windows. The material referred to the possibility of another arsonist.
Hillman was arrested in August 2009 following a six-month investigation. His trial for jury tampering began in July 2010. About a week later, jurors found him guilty of trying to influence a juror.