Man convicted of attempted arson murder on wife

FRESNO — A Fresno man that set his house on fire while his wife was inside unconscious has been sentenced to nine years in state prison on Monday.

Joe Edward Westfall, 32, was charged with arson and attempted murder for the December 2007 fire that took place on 3865 East Ashlan Ave. near Cedar Avenue in central Fresno.

A U.S. postal worker spotted the fire on Dec. 14, 2007. Westfall’s wife, Jennifer, was found unconscious by rescue workers in a bathroom while the fire took place. She was given CPR at the scene and was treated for serious burns at a local hospital.

For 2 ½ years, Westfall claimed he was innocent and that the fire he caused was an accident. Police at the time discovered that Westfall had an online relationship with a 19-year-old woman from the Philippines. According to Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer, Westfall sent the woman money and jewelry that had a value of $14,000.

Back in April of this year, Westfall pleaded no contest to four felony charges, which included the attempted murder of his wife and arson. According to the plea agreement, Judge Jonathan Conklin sentenced Westfall to the nine-year term, which included ordering Westfall to register himself as an arsonist.

Prosecutor Mike Elder said that Westfall started the fire with a propane heater while his wife slept. Firefighters saved her life three minutes after the fire broke out.

Jennifer Westfall didn’t attend the Monday morning court hearing, but stated in a letter to Conklin that she supports her husband and denies that he was trying to kill her. She described him as “sweet, loving and thoughtful,” and said he’s never mistreated her in any way.

Man convicted of attempted arson murder on wife was last modified: July 9th, 2012 by admin
Categories: Fresno

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Lorenzo Reyna

Lorenzo Reyna is a freelance crime reporter and sports writer in the Fresno area. He is the founder and owner of, which covers California State University, Fresno sports. Before creating the new website, he was a sports reporter at both and CSU Fresno's campus newspaper, The Collegian. You can reach him at