RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A convicted felon accused of fleeing Riverside County after igniting a fire that killed two animals in a Menifee home is under arrest in Arizona, awaiting extradition back to California, authorities said Friday, Sept. 11.
Sean Joshua Halas, 52, of Menifee allegedly started a blaze inside a property on Shoreline Drive on June 24 for reasons that prosecutors did not disclose.
The house sustained significant damage, and a dog and bird were killed in the fire, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Halas was on probation for a second-degree attempted murder conviction connected to a domestic attack in 2018, according to prosecutors, who said he was sentenced for that crime six days prior to the fire.
Prosecutors said Halas had been living at the location he allegedly set aflame. Witnesses alleged they saw his pickup truck racing away from the residence shortly after the blaze erupted, according to the D.A.’s office.
Based on evidence collected at the scene and witnesses’ statements, the convicted felon was charged in July with arson, use of an incendiary device to commit arson and two counts of animal cruelty.
The D.A.’s office noted that at Halas’ sentencing on June 18 for the attempted murder conviction, prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison term, but Superior Court Judge Jorge Hernandez instead imposed a 365-day jail term, as well as three years felony probation.
With credit for over 600 days of time served awaiting trial, the jail term was nullified.
A warrant was issued for the defendant’s arrest at the end of July, and the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force initiated a search for Halas that eventually led to Bullhead City, Arizona, where he was taken into custody without incident on Tuesday.
He is being held without bail at the Mohave County Jail pending extradition.