Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee said yesterday that no charges would be filed against the two people arrested in connection with the June 20 fire at the edge of Highway 17 near the fishhook.
Kelly Nichole Hawkins, 30, and Mitchell Edward Swienton, 49, initially were arrested on suspicion of arson.
Lee said Wednesday that insufficient evidence existed to charge the pair with arson. There is no direct evidence from eye witnesses or any one else regarding the identity of the persons who started the fire, neither person made incriminating statements and both adamantly denied setting the fire, Lee wrote in a press release.
Additionally, the fire occurred in an area where many homeless individuals routinely camp and gather, and there was evidence other people were around at the time of the fire. Swienton and Hawkins were arrested at different locations and no evidence found connects them to each other at the time of the fire.
“There was no evidence that Mr. Sweinton had anything to do with the fire,” said Swienton’s public defender, Mark Briscoe. ” The District Attorney’s decision shows that while the wheels of justice may operate slowly, they usually reach the correct outcome.”