OAKLAND, Calif. - Alfredo Batista plead not guilty Tuesday to a series of bizarre crimes last week which include arson, attempted robbery and car theft.
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According to court documents, the 24-year-old Concord man confessed to a police officer he started last Wednesday's fire in the Oakland hills with a cigarette lighter. The blaze took three days to extinguish.
Before the fire began, police say Bautista tried robbing two victims at gunpoint who were sitting in their car on Grizzly Peak Boulevard.
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"I didn't know if I was going to die," said victim Dru Anne Billings.
Billings says she took off in her car to get away from Bautista, who then chased her.
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"He followed in a stolen car, he crashed into me repeatedly until I lost control of my car," said Billings.
She crashed her PT cruiser into a parked car. The suspect eventually ran off.
Hours later, after the fire began, witnesses report seeing Bautista trying to steal a car at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Those witnesses stopped him until UC police arrived.
A pretrial hearing for Bautista is set for Aug. 15.