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Daily Pilot

UCI professor pleads not guilty to additional arson charge

Prosecutors also added on sentencing enhancement for the alleged use of fireplace logs at two fires.

By Jeremiah Dobruck

3:00 PM PST, January 18, 2013

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Prosecutors leveled another charge Thursday against the UC Irvine professor accused of setting fires around the city and planning a deadly attack at a local high school after his son committed suicide.

Previously, Orange County district attorney officials said that Rainer Reinscheid, 48, of Irvine, set eight fires across the city in July at various locations, including at University High School, a school administrator's home and William R. Mason Regional Park.

Now he's pleaded not guilty to a ninth charge.

Two separate fires were started using a fireplace log at University High on the same day in mid-July, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said.

The use of those artificial logs could also add to the prison time Reinscheid faces because prosecutors are tacking it on as a sentencing enhancement.

"We determined that the use of these fire logs constitutes [use of] an accelerant," Katz said.

Reinscheid is being held without bail after he was charged with nine felony counts, including arson of a structure, attempted arson and arson of another person's property, and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.

Police originally arrested him on July 24 when they allegedly found him in a bush at Mason Park with stacks of newspapers doused with lighter fluid.

After being released on bail, he was arrested three days later when police allegedly found emails outlining a plot to kill at least 200 students and the assistant principal at University High.

Reinscheid's 14-year-old son was a student at University High. The boy committed suicide in March, the day after he was disciplined at school for a minor incident.

Reinscheid pleaded not guilty in August. He faces a maximum of 24 years and four months in state prison if he is convicted.

jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck