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Arsonist professor faces prison

A US university professor who started a series of fires after his teenage son committed suicide and who drew up a graphic plan to attack the boy's school is facing a sentence ranging from three years to 18 years in prison.

University of California pharmaceutical sciences professor Rainer Reinscheid, 49, is due to appear in court for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to six counts of arson, three counts of attempted arson, and resisting or obstructing an officer.

Prosecutors are seeking the maximum sentence for the German, who started fires at a school, a school administrator's house and the park where his 14-year-old son hanged himself after being disciplined for allegedly stealing at the school store.

Emails were seized from Reinscheid's account addressed to himself and his wife outlining a plan to attack the high school campus, commit sexual assaults and burn down the school before killing himself, though no charges were filed related to them.

Defence lawyer Joshua Glotzer said Reinscheid was not in his right mind after his son's death. Reinscheid had arranged for the boy to meet with a therapist the day he got into trouble at school - and hours before he committed suicide.

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