SLO High grad avoids more jail time for computer lab fire

Jacob Lee Ruth

One of the three former San Luis Obispo High School students who was accused of burning down the campus computer lab received a sentence Monday that will allow him to avoid spending more time behind bars if he complies with his probation requirements. [KSBY]

Jacob Lee Ruth received six years in prison for a few different convictions, but the sentence was suspended. Ruth must now serve five years of formal probation.

If Ruth were to violate the terms of his probation, his prison sentence could be unsuspended. Ruth’s sentence also includes credit for a significant amount of time he has already served in jail.

In Dec. 2016, a fire destroyed the SLO High computer lab and damaged an adjacent building, causing a total of about $1.8 million in damage. Shortly after the fire burned the computer lab, officers arrested three former SLO High students whom they found nearby inside a car belonging to Ruth.

A trial for Ruth concluded last August with the jury convicting him of starting a separate fire that destroyed a portable toilet at SLO High days earlier. The jury found Ruth guilty of one of two counts of burglary and one count of arson.

On the arson charge pertaining to the blaze that destroyed the computer lab, the jury hung 11-1 in favor of convicting Ruth. Last month, Ruth pleaded no contest to the arson charge for the computer lab fire as part of a deal to avoid a retrial.

Prosecutors said the majority of evidence pointed to Ruth being the individual who started the computer lab fire.

Ruth’s co-defendants in the case were former SLO High students Michael Benadiba and Cameron Bratcher. Benadiba is currently serving an approximately 4.5-month sentence in SLO County Jail for his role in the case, while Bratcher has pleaded no contest to multiple charges and is awaiting sentencing.

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