|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0074
January 24, 2014
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
MAN FACES TRIAL FOR MURDERING GRANDMOTHER AND SETTING HOUSE ON FIRE WITH
TWO YOUNG CHILDREN INSIDE
SANTA ANA – A man faces trial Monday for murdering his grandmother and setting her house on fire while his 8-year-old brother and 3-year-old niece were inside the home. Joseph Elija Ettima, 30, is charged with one felony count of murder, one felony count of arson of an inhabited dwelling, two felony counts of child abuse, one felony count of criminal threats, and a sentencing enhancement for arson with an accelerant. If convicted on all counts, Ettima faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, Jan. 27, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On Jan. 19, 2009, Ettima is accused of visiting the Los Alamitos home of his 69-year-old grandmother, Emma Louise Hardwick–Street, to see if he could move in with her. Hardwick-Street was already raising two young children in her home including the defendant’s 8-year-old brother and 3-year-old niece. When the victim refused to let Ettima move in, the defendant is accused of arguing with his grandmother and stabbing her to death. The two children were present in the home at the time that Ettima is accused of murdering Hardwick-Street.
Ettima is accused of dousing clothes and other flammable items in the house with rubbing alcohol and setting the home on fire. He is accused of fleeing the scene, leaving the two children. The 8-year-old boy was able to escape from the fire to the front of the house and rescued the 3-year-old girl by taking her with him.
Los Alamitos Police Department investigated this case with assistance from the United States Marshals Service. A warrant was issued for the defendant on Jan. 21, 2009. He was arrested by the United States Marshals Service in a town south of Mexico City and deported from Mexico to the United States on April 14, 2009.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste is prosecuting this case.