A judge yesterday dismissed arson and burglary charges against a 47-year-old Redwood City woman accused of torching her boyfriend's home on Halloween by reaching through the cat door to ignite the curtains.
Judge Jack Grandsaert found insufficient evidence after a preliminary hearing in which Valerie Demarval's boyfriend downplayed the incident and said she still lived at the Doris Court residence, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Without witnesses seeing Demarval personally setting the fire, there was no proof it wasn't set by something like a smoldering cigarette, Wagstaffe said.
Grandsaert dismissed the charge of arson and also burglary because prosecutors could not prove she unlawfully entered the premises to commit a crime.
Based on the victim's changing story and the lack of extensive damage to the property, Grandsaert's dismissal was "a reasonable decision,” Wagstaffe said.
The man originally told authorities he had left the home at around 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31 and set the alarm but that a neighbor saw Demarval walking away from the residence and the dining room drapes on fire. The neighbor extinguished the fire by sticking a garden hose through the cat door and authorities believe Demarval had used the same opening to light the drapes.
Prosecutors said at the time that the couple had lived together for approximately six weeks when he asked her to move out because of her drinking.
Michelle Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.