For release on April 19, 2013
Alaleh Kianerci, Deputy District Attorney
Central Felonies Unit
A 19-year-old San Jose man, Kliefert Guiang, was sentenced today before the Hon. Gilbert T. Brown to 10 years in prison for burning down Trace Elementary School in July of 2010.Guiang had previously been sent to a state hospital so that he could be restored to competency. After extensive evaluation, doctors and the Court found him competent and his criminal proceedings were reinstated. Last year, co-defendant Lazarus Reavallez, 19, was sentenced to eight years in prison. “The Defendants threatened the safety of the community, the well-being of the students and the people who live near Trace Elementary,’’ prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci said. “Luckily no one was hurt. However, this fire devastated the students and teachers whose classrooms were destroyed. For over two years after the fire, the children of Trace were learning in portable class rooms, while teachers struggled to put all the pieces back together. ” The two co-defendants were 16 years old at the time of the arson. They were both charged as adults for Aggravated Arson, which carries a term of ten years to life. Under the negotiated disposition, Guiang pleaded to a reduced charge of Arson of a Structure, with an enhancement which adds four years for causing damage in excess of $3.5 million. Guiang also pleaded to felony child endangerment, for bringing a young boy to the scene and forcing him to take part in the arson. On July 5, 2010 the two teens dragged along the 11-year-old boy in Guiang’s care and went to the school with the intention of setting fire to it. They set two fires on separate sides of the school and left. The fire burned the library, and several classrooms. It caused approximately $14 million in damage. Both teenagers confessed to starting the fire. This case was solved with the excellent work and collaboration of the San Jose Fire Department Investigators, Robbery Unit of the San Jose Police Department, and the District Attorney’s office investigators. The school was rebuilt, in part due to donations from people all around the world, and the students now have a beautiful new campus.