Man acquitted of attempted murder in San Francisco house fire

A man accused of burning down his 81-year-old mother’s Cow Hollow home two years ago was acquitted of seven attempted murder charges Thursday because the fire was “the unintended result of a botched suicide attempt,” according to the Public Defender’s Office.

After five hours of deliberating, a jury found 55-year-old Niels Conrad not guilty of the serious charges connected to the March 4, 2010, blaze on Broderick Street.

Attempted murder charges were reportedly filed because the fire risked the lives of his mother, five police officers and a fire investigator. If convicted, Conrad would have faced life in prison.

Instead, Conrad was convicted on one count of arson of personal property and a lesser charge for unlawfully causing a fire.

The former nurse did not intend to start the fire or hurt anyone but himself, said his attorney, Hadi Razzaq.
At the time, he had moved in with his mother following a series of setbacks, including colon cancer, a heart attack, the loss of his job and a foreclosure, Razzaq said.

But when his mom kicked him out, Razzaq said, Conrad tried to kill himself via self-immolation using gasoline.

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