Arson suspect in Corona condo fire turns himself in; Claims innocence in Facebook post


(Photo: Adams County Sheriff’s Office)

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ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- The man suspected of starting the massive condo fire in Adams County Tuesday turned himself over to authorities on Friday, the Adams County Sheriff's Office confirmed.

Martin Castruita Espinoza, 20, was wanted on numerous charges, including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson and aggravated cruelty to animals. An Adams County Sheriff's Office spokesperson confirmed Espinoza was in custody as of 11:30 a.m. Friday.

The fire sparked on Tuesday, sending flames shooting into the air and a large plume of smoke into the sky that was visible from downtown Denver.

It destroyed one building at the Corona Village Condominiums, which had 12 units inside. It spread and destroyed an adjacent building that also had 12 units. In total, 24 families were left homeless after the fire.

Thursday, Espinoza wrote on his Facebook page that he was interviewed by detectives "cause I was one of the first ones on scene."

Espinoza said he was taken to a police station and questioned about the fire. "My mother's house f****** burned down that day and the detectives who had questioned me kept accusing me as being the cause of it," he wrote.

He also wrote that he was "repeatedly harassed by detectives and the division chief who continually said I burned families out of homes and that they would enjoy hunting me down for this case."

Espinoza was last seen near the condo complex, which is on East 88th Avenue, just of Washington Street.

According to the arrest affidavit, Espinoza had become estranged with his mother who was no longer allowing him to visit her.

The affidavit also says that Espinoza called his sister around 1:50 p.m. to say that his mother's apartment was on fire. The sister, Jesusita Duran, told police she asked how Espinoza knew the apartment was on fire.

Espinoza responded that he saw the fire while at a Wal-Mart across the street. In a second phone call about 10 minutes later, Espinoza told his sister that "everything will be lost," the affidavit said.

A Wal-Mart employee who allowed Espinoza to use a courtesy phone to call his sister told police that he "smelled like smoke," the affidavit said.

Detectives took Espinoza's clothing for analysis after they interviewed him about the fire at the police substation.

According to the affidavit, other witnesses said they saw Espinoza at the condo complex before the fire. The police detective also mentioned that surveillance video showed the fire appears to have started on the third floor and that a K-9 search dog found a scent indicating the presence of an accelerant, the affidavit said.

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