Mistrial declared in Benitez arson case

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PHOENIX - The jury in the trial of Christopher Benitez did not reach a verdict, so the judge declared a mistrial.

Benitez, 27, was on trial for arson and murder related to a grocery store fire at 35th Avenue and McDowell Road nearly 10 years ago.

Benitez is accused of setting the supermarket fire in 2001 that claimed the life of Phoenix firefighter Bret Tarver.

Benitez was arrested on suspicion of murder and arson of an occupied structure after investigators discovered cardboard boxes behind the Southwest Supermarket at 35th Avenue and McDowell Road were set on fire prior to the blaze spreading to attic of the store.

Lots of Valley firefighters have been in the courtroom keeping a close eye on the case.

It is up to the prosecutor on whether charges against Benitez will be re-filed.