Eugene Volk pleads not guilty in connection with fire at Catholic church
Volk faces felony arson, vandalism charges
Last Updated: 58 days ago
EL CAJON, Calif. - An ex-con accused of setting a fire that caused more than $200,000 in damages to a Catholic church near Mount Helix pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony arson and vandalism charges.
Eugene William Volk, 45, who prosecutors said has prior "strike" convictions from a 1991 vehicular manslaughter case and a 1988 residential burglary case, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar said.
"If in fact there are two strikes, any of the felony counts can that he's currently charged with the criminal threats or the arson are both considered strikes and they could be third strikes," according to Aguilar.
Volk was ordered held on $500,000 bail.
He was arrested Thursday as he walked near fire-damaged Santa Sophia Church on San Juan Street in Spring Valley, sheriff's arson Detective Anthony Portillo said..
The fire was reported Oct. 8 about 8 p.m. just north of Campo Road and state Route 94. It took firefighters about 10 minutes to put out the non-injury blaze, which caused extensive damage to the church interior.
Authorities declined to disclose a motive for setting the fire or say what led them Volk.
Volk -- formally charged with arson of a structure and vandalism of religious property -- will be back in court Oct. 25 for a readiness conference and Oct. 28 for a preliminary hearing.
10News learned that Volk is currently facing criminal threats charges in another case downtown. He's also about to be sentenced for pleading guilty to a domestic battery charge in El Cajon.
Volk has already spent at least 15 years in state prison.
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