San Diego

Trial set for Navy sailor accused in USS Bonhomme Richard arson

Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, faces fees of arson and willful hazarding of a vessel for allegedly setting the blaze that started July 12, 2020, and burned for a number of days.

SAN DIEGO — The trial towards the Navy sailor accused of setting a fireplace that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego started Monday morning. 

Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, faces fees of arson and willful hazarding of a vessel for allegedly setting the blaze that started July 12, 2020, and burned for a number of days whereas the warship was docked at Naval Base San Diego.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mays was “disgruntled” with the Navy after dropping out of the SEAL coaching program.

Monday, Seaman Mays instructed the choose he has chosen a bench trial and desires a navy choose, fairly than a jury, to find out his destiny. 

“It was a mischievous act of defiance gone wrong,” was the primary sentence of the prosecution’s opening assertion.

Mays has denied any position in the fireplace, although different sailors beforehand testified to seeing him enter the ship’s “Lower V” space — the place investigators say the fireplace originated — simply previous to the blaze breaking out. One sailor who escorted Mays to the brig after he was arrested in reference to the blaze alleged Mays stated, “I’m guilty. I guess I did it … it had to be done.”

Mays’ trial at Naval Base San Diego is anticipated to final two weeks. He faces as much as life in jail if convicted.

At an Article 32 listening to held final year on the base, prosecutors alleged the blaze was sparked by somebody touching an open flame to an ignitable liquid utilized to tri-wall containers in the Lower V.

Defense skilled witnesses challenged findings that the blaze was an incendiary — or deliberate — hearth, and stated additional evaluation of the scene ought to have been accomplished earlier than investigators dominated out potential unintentional causes of the blaze. They have additionally alleged that investigators missed one other sailor who might have been a potential arson suspect.

While Mays is the one particular person criminally charged in reference to the fireplace, the Navy issued a letter of censure earlier this year to the previous commander of its U.S. Pacific Fleet, alleging management failures stemming from the fireplace, and in addition issued 27 “individual disposition decisions” relating to hearth prevention, readiness and response efforts aboard the ship.

WATCH RELATED: Navy punishes 2 dozen officers, sailors in USS Bonhomme Richard hearth (Jul 15, 2022)

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