Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vacaville, CA: Faisons' daughter recounts threats prior to mother's death in suspected Vacaville arson

Posted: 12/23/2009 01:01:42 AM PST

Murder defendant Richard Lee Strand reportedly told his ex-girlfriend that he was going to get her and her family only hours before her parents' Vacaville home erupted in flames, killing her 88-year-old mother, according to testimony offered Tuesday in Solano County Superior Court.
Strand, 39, is charged with first-degree murder and arson stemming from the July 8, 2007, blaze that engulfed the Anita Court home of Ronald and Gloria Faison. Ronald Faison was injured in the blaze. His wife was trapped by the flames and died in her bedroom.

Vacaville police arrested Strand a short distance from the Faisons' home only moments before it was swept by fire. A patrol officer said he initially stopped Strand for several bicycling violations but then noticed that he was carrying a large sheath knife and smelled of gasoline.

Questioned Tuesday by prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Krishna Abrams, the Faisons' daughter, Lisa, described her on-again, off-again relationship with Strand after meeting him in 2003 or 2004.

A self-described former "garbage can" drug user, Faison said her relationship with Strand "started out nice," but then he became increasingly abusive as they moved around between Vacaville and Woodland, doing drugs -- mostly "speed" or methamphetamine -- while living in apartments, motels and Strand's motor home.

Unexpected physical abuse and bizarre threats increased.

"He said I ripped his heart out and he was going to rip my heart out like I


did his, and then he took my cat hostage," Faison recalled.
The woman said she became afraid of him and that he'd "socked me up pretty good" on different occasions.

Upon further questioning, Faison testified that Strand had choked her, beaten her and, on one occasion, set a fire along the driveway of a friend's home where she was staying.

"He said 'If I'd had more gasoline, I would have burned more, but I ran out of gas,' " Faison stated.

Faison said she served a short stretch in Yolo County Jail during June and part of July 2007, and that Strand approached her in a shopping center near the jail a short time after her release.

The woman said they had words and she tried to get away but he slammed her into a wall.

"I started to get up to get away from him ... the next thing I knew. I was up against a brick wall," she said.

Strand, Faison testified, drove away and she made a police report about the attack, but didn't identify him by name when she contacted police.

The next day, Faison said, she spoke to Strand on the phone and he said, "I'm going to get you and your whole family, starting with your family first."

On July 8, 2007, Faison was awakened at her Fairfield apartment by Vacaville police detectives informing her of the fire at her parents' home.

Crying, Faison paused, then testified "They told me the house was on fire. My momma was dead."

Faison told the court she had been clean and sober for more than a year.

"My dad needs me. My children need me. My grandbaby needs me. And I'm tired, just tired," she said.

Testimony resumes at 10 a.m. Jan. 5 before Solano County Superior Court Judge William C. Harrison.

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