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Deer hunter spared jail for starting Calif. fire

Updated: November 18, 2005, 6:12 PM ET
Associated Press — Nov. 18, 2005

SAN DIEGO — A deer hunter, after a tearful courtroom apology, was sentenced Thursday to five years probation for starting a wildfire that killed 15 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

"I wish I was dead instead," Sergio Martinez told a packed courtroom that included many victims of the blaze east of San Diego that charred 422 square miles — the largest wildfire in California history.

Martinez started the fire to attract attention after he became lost and disoriented ...

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