Florida: Man Attempts to Burn Home of Lesbian Couple & 8 Kids

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 04 2014 2:35 PM ET

A Miami man has been arrested for setting fire to the home of his neighbors, a lesbian couple and their eight children.

Braulio Valenzuela-Villanueva, a 73-year-old registered sex offender, faces charges of attempted second-degree murder, arson, and committing a hate crime for attempting to burn down the trailer last Saturday, CBS's Miami affiliate reports.

The family did not have smoke detectors, but they escaped the fire after hearing a neighbor shouting in reaction to the blaze.

“The reason they say is because I’m a lesbian. But this is not an excuse for me. I never had a problem with him,” Norma Beteta Fonseca told the Miami Herald. “I don’t understand. This is crazy. I don’t understand why.”

Surveillance videos show the suspect setting fire to a mattress that was leaning against the family's trailer home, before rushing back to his home. When the fire became worse, police said, he returned to the family's residence to "casually" observe the fire, the TV station reports. He was then urged to bring a garden hose to fight the fire by another neighbor, though local firefighters eventually put an end to the fire.

The trailer sustained "considerable damage," according to the police report. There were no injuries reported.

During police questioning, Valenzuela-Villanueva said he didn't start the fire, but stated that he "despised the two adult victims for the simple fact that they were lesbians," the police report notes. The arrest affidavit also says that "every time he saw them kissing he felt a deep repugnance and in his opinion, they did not deserve children.”

Several sex offenders were removed from the River Park Trailer Court last year, because they had been allegedly living there illegally, according to the Herald. The offenders where taken to live in a warehouse district, because county law prohibits those on probation from living within 2,500 feet of a park, school, day care center, playground, or anywhere else children regularly gather. Valenzuela-Villanueva was not on probation.