A judge on Monday rejected a defense motion to dismiss murder and arson charges against Modesto landlord George Souliotes and ordered that he remain in custody without bail as he awaits his third trial.
Souliotes’ volunteer legal defense team, however, won two victories on evidence the prosecution intended to use in his upcoming trial.
Judge Donald Shaver ruled that a key witness, neighbor Monica Sandoval, cannot identify Souliotes as the suspect in the deadly 1997 fire that resulted in the deaths of a mother and her two small children. The judge called Sandoval’s account of whom she saw on the night of the fire at Souliotes’ rental home “way too speculative.”
The judge also decided that two former fire investigators who examined the evidence 16 years ago cannot testify that they still believe the fire was intentionally started.