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Witnesses Die; Rim Fire Charges Dropped


California U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner announced this morning that the U.S. government is dismissing its indictment against the man who allegedly caused the "Rim Fire" - Keith Matthew Emerald.

The fire was started in the Stanislaus National Forest and burned 250,000 acres of land. In the motion to dismiss, the government said two witnesses had unexpectedly died in recent months, since the filing of the indictment last August.

The government says it reassessed the case in light of the loss of anticipated trial testimony from those witnesses and determined that without that testimony it was unlikely to prove the charges in the case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

-Capital Public Radio Staff

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