Kurtenbach to return to court on June 29

A trial date will be set on June 29 for James Kurtenbach, Ramona businessman charged with arson, insurance fraud and murder stemming from the death of one of his employees in a vacant house owned by Kurtenbach. The house was destroyed in an explosion.

Kurtenbach, 48, was to have received a trial date this week, but it was postponed a week in El Cajon Superior Court. He remains free on $2 million bond that was posted on Jan. 31.

He has pleaded innocent to all charges that involve the Oct. 31, 2008, death of Joseph Nesheiwat, 24, who died of massive burns and was killed almost instantly in the fire that destroyed the house at 16421 N. Woodson Drive. Kurtenbach is alleged to have arranged for his employee to torch the house, which was insured for $915,000.

After a preliminary hearing that lasted four days, a judge on June 2 ordered him to stand trial on most of the charges, which also include unrelated counts of tax evasion, labor code violations and misrepresentation over the number of workers he had at his Stars Gas Station.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Kurtenbach would face a sentence of 15-years-to-life in prison, and more years could be added if he is convicted of some of the other charges. He lives in Poway.

   
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