A pair of felony charges have been filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court against a Nipomo man accused of breaking into the Santa Maria Court Complex and setting a fire that led to extensive water damage.
Eric Wolfgang Spies, 31, has been charged with felony arson of a structure or forest and felony second-degree burglary for the Feb. 18 incident, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
He also faces sentencing enhancements for aggravating factors.
Spies is accused of showing up at the Santa Maria Court Complex at approximately 9:15 p.m. Saturday after receiving a letter notifying him to appear for a misdemeanor criminal case next month.
After learning the location, the man reportedly ignored a security guard’s order to leave and instead broke the two glass doors at the entrance to Building G, where criminal cases are heard.
Once inside, he forcefully entered the Department 8 courtroom, pulling on the doors so hard that he broke the wooden frames at the top.
The man then allegedly started a fire on the defense counsel’s chair, which spread to the table and carpet. The blaze was so hot that it melted the lights in the ceiling and sprinklers turned on, court staff said.
By the time crews turned off the fire sprinklers, they had cause significant water damage.
The misdemeanor case that led Spies to show up at the court case also involved a government building.
In that case, he was charged with misdemeanor vandalism exceeding $400 and involving a window at 2125 Centerpointe Pkwy. — the Santa Barbara County Social Services Department at the Betteravia Government Center. The incident occurred Sept. 9.
Spies remained in the custody of the Northern Branch Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $75,000.