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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

For Immediate Release
Friday, September 1, 2023

Escondido Man Sentenced to 31 Years to Life in Prison for Murder and Arson

SAN DIEGO – An Escondido man was sentenced earlier this week to 31 years to life in prison for murder and arson, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today. 

Jose Romero, 35, was sentenced Wednesday by California Superior Court Judge Sim Von Kalinowski to one count of murder with an enhancement for using a knife and one count of arson of an inhabited structure or property.

On Oct. 4, 2020, Romero stabbed Procopio Blanco Cervantes, 50, multiple times, then set multiple fires within the Waverly Place residence in Escondido in attempts to conceal his crime.

An ATF Certified Fire Investigator determined the origin and cause of the fire and testified to facts during Romero’s two-week jury trial in July. Romero was found guilty on Aug. 1, 2023, by a Vista Superior Court.

“ATF CFIs conduct fire scene examinations rendering origin and cause determinations and provide technical analysis of fire scenes to local law enforcement partners and prosecutors,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Christopher Bombardiere. “This is another example of ATF’s commitment and our extraordinary partnership with Escondido Police and Fire Departments.”

In 2021, 1.35 million fires occurred within the United States, which resulted in 3,800 deaths, 14,700 injuries and $16 billion in losses.  ATF is the primary federal law enforcement agency tasked with and equipped to investigate the origins and causes of those fires.  Arson investigations have been an integral part of ATF’s mission since the passage of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. This case was investigated by ATF, the Escondido Police Department and Escondido Fire Department.

To learn more about ATF Los Angeles Field Division follow us on Twitter @LosAngelesATF.

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