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Man charged in burning of L.A. homeless woman

  • A burned city bus bench seen in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Thursday Dec. 27,2012 after police arrested a man for allegedly setting a 67-year-old woman on fire who was sleeping on the bus stop bench. Authorities said the man, who is in his 20s, was arrested early Thursday. Police said the attack occurred shortly after 1 a.m. outside a drug store. A witness said he saw a man come out of the store and pour something on the woman who had been sleeping on a bench before striking a match and setting her ablaze. The woman, who may be homeless, was taken to a hospital and listed in critical condition. (AP Photo/Greg Risling)

LOS ANGELES — A 24-year-old Los Angeles man was charged Monday with attempted murder after a homeless woman was set on fire last week as she slept on a suburban bus bench, the district attorney's office said.

Dennis Petillo is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on the attempted murder charge and an additional count of aggravated mayhem, said Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney. Carney will ask that Petillo's bail be set at $1.03 million.

Prosecutors say Petillo threw a flammable liquid on the 67-year-old woman then set her on fire last Thursday. She remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition, officials said.

Police have released no motive for the crime that shocked the San Fernando Valley community of Van Nuys, where the woman had made her home on the streets for years.

Neighbors set up a makeshift shrine at the bench where the woman, whose identity has not been released, habitually slept. Locals said she was known as Violet and eked out a living by recycling cans.


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