Google arson suspect to remain in custody

An attorney for a 30-year-old man charged last week with arson at Google headquarters argued Friday for his client’s release but a federal court judge ordered the defendant remain in custody.

U.S. District Judge Nathanael Cousins ordered that Raul Murillo Diaz stay in jail for allegedly committing arson at the prominent tech company’s headquarters in Mountain View.

Diaz appeared Friday in an orange Santa Clara County jail uniform for a detention hearing this afternoon in downtown San Jose attended by around a dozen of Diaz’s family members, including his parents, who filled two rows in the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Curtis Bostic argued that Diaz allegedly planned to commit two arsons as well as a shooting, and bring a potentially explosive device to Google headquarters in the span of six weeks.

The alleged arsons that targeted Google vehicles happened on the night of May 19 when Diaz threw Molotov cocktails on a Street View car and during the early morning of June 10, when a self-driving car was wrecked, Bostic said.

A bystander saw Diaz allegedly fire five to 10 gunshots at a company building on June 4, according to Bostic.

On June 30, Diaz was allegedly seen at the Google campus and chased down by officers, who found a gun and a potentially explosive device in his vehicle, Bostic said.

Diaz posed a threat to thousands of people working at Google headquarters, where employees are present around the clock, and in the surrounding community, according to Bostic.

Company surveillance footage corroborated Diaz’s presence at the campus, in addition to his confession to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, Bostic said.

Diaz also indicated that he had an “obsession or fixation” with Google and if released couldn’t be trusted to behave as a “rational person,” Bostic said.

Diaz’s attorney Varell Laphalle Fuller noted Diaz’s mental state was a concern, but requested his client be released to home confinement and undergo a mental health evaluation out of custody.

Fuller had argued that the alleged crimes weren’t violent, cited a lack of sufficient evidence to keep his client in custody and Diaz’s lack of criminal history.

Diaz is an Oakland resident who has lived in the community for 27 years and has ties to El Salvador, but shouldn’t be considered a flight risk, Fuller said.

If released, Diaz would have limited means to travel because authorities took his car when they arrested him without incident on June 30, according to Fuller.

Cousins agreed with a report from pretrial services to keep Diaz in custody and a mental health evaluation that would provide more clarity on whether or not Diaz should be released.

The presented information showed Diaz posed a danger on more than one occasion and thankfully no one was hurt, Cousins said.

Diaz was scheduled to return to court on July 27.