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Woman to face trial for trying to set toddler on fire

BARSTOW • An Arizona woman will face trial for attempted murder after she allegedly tried to set a three-year-old boy on fire in Needles earlier this month.

Barstow Superior Court Judge Miriam Morton determined at a preliminary hearing Thursday there was enough evidence for Elizabeth Smoka, 56, of Mohave Valley, Ariz., to face trial for attempted murder.

During the hearing, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Cross said he was called out on the evening of March 4 to the scene near the intersection of K and Spruce Streets in Needles. There, witnesses told him a group with the victim was walking down the street when Smoka drove up and began yelling at them.

Cross said he was told Smoka threw a rag soaked with gasoline onto the toddler’s stroller and then threw a lit match at the child, witnesses told him. The rag did not ignite and there were no reported injuries, he said.

When deputies contacted Smoka, they found the vehicle witnesses described at the scene with a gasoline can and matches inside, Cross said. The stroller appeared to have gasoline on it, though the rag was never found.

Smoka is scheduled for an arraignment hearing March 28 at Barstow Superior Court.

Smoka has previous drug charges, including a conviction for renting a place for storage of a controlled substance.

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com


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