Police / Fire

Hollister resident sentenced to state hospital in arson cases

Confinement set at 13.5 years.

Hollister resident and arson suspect David Pequeno was sentenced by Judge Hector Ramon on April 21 to be committed to the California State Hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity by Judge Gilbert Brown on Feb. 25. 

The probation department calculated Pequeno’s “exposure,” the prison sentence he would have otherwise received, at 13 years and six months, with 1,069 days credited toward his sentence for time served. As part of the sentence, Ramon specified that Pequeno can be subjected to involuntary medication. 

Following Brown’s verdict, Pequeno underwent a psychiatric evaluation to determine his final placement. According to Penal Code Section 1026, if “it appears to the court that the sanity of the defendant has been recovered fully, the defendant shall be remanded to the custody of the sheriff until the issue of sanity has been finally determined in the manner prescribed by law.”

Pequeno, who was 22 at the time of his arrest, was accused of causing four separate fires in November 2020 and faced multiple charges including several counts of vandalism in connection with slashed vehicle tires.

Among the businesses affected was Cheung Sheng Chinese Restaurant and She’s Consignments and Gifts. Both reopened in new buildings on San Benito Street. 

In a previous interview, Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo described the downtown fires as “especially difficult because they happened at the same time and we did not have enough  resources on hand to handle two fires like that. We tapped out our resources in three minutes.”

Neither Pequeno nor his family, who were present at the hearing, spoke during or after the sentencing. Pequeno’s family declined to make a comment to BenitoLink.


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.