A trial readiness conference has been scheduled for June 18, and a jury trial may begin as soon as Aug. 4, for Steven Taylor Rutherford, 48, of Banning, the man charged with 13 felony counts of arson with enhancements including use of a delayed ignition device.
A medical report on Rutherford’s ability to stand trial was submitted to a Riverside County Superior Court on April 29 and a hearing on its conclusion was held May 1. Following the hearing and on the basis of the reports on Rutherford’s mental competency, Judge Mark Johnson ruled that Rutherford “… is mentally competent to stand trial pursuant to 1368 [Penal Code].”
He then sent the dates for the next court proceedings in June and August.
The new charges against Rutherford involve nine arson fires in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Rutherford has a prior arson conviction for a 1989 fire set in Riverside County.