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Man Convicted of Arson During Riot Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years

October 15, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A man convicted of throwing a Molotov cocktail into a shopping complex’s convenience store during last spring’s riot was sentenced Thursday to nearly 20 years in prison.

Donald Coleman, 34, nodded as Superior Court Judge Nancy Brown explained the 19-year, eight-month sentence.

″He’s a fairly stoic fellow,″ said Coleman’s attorney, Patrick Thomason. ″He’s certainly not happy about the verdict or the sentence, but we do plan to appeal.″

On Wednesday, a jury convicted Coleman, 34, of using a destructive device, arson of personal property and arson of a structure, said Deputy District Attorney Sally Lipscomb.

Also Wednesday, another jury convicted Byron Garcia, 21, of one count of arson during a state of emergency. Garcia, convicted of setting fire to a delivery truck during the riot, faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 3.

The riot broke out April 29, hours after a jury in Simi Valley acquitted four white police officers of most charges in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.

Coleman admitted during his trial that he looted a supermarket of liquor and cigarettes and shattered the windows of a convenience store to get more liquor and cigarettes. But he denied throwing the firebomb.

He was acquitted of torching the entire 20-store complex. Jurors apparently felt Coleman didn’t intend to destroy all the stores, Ms. Lipscomb said.

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