BODY: FAIRBANKS (AP) Prosecutors in Washington state have dismissed an arson charge against William Holmes of Fairbanks, allowing his extradition to California to face charges of fatally shooting two men on Christmas Eve.
Holmes, 23, is charged with shooting Hakeem Bryant, 25, of Fairbanks and Christopher Martin, 27 of Tacoma, Wash. in Shasta County, Calif. on Dec. 24. He has been held in Washington since Dec. 29 on an arson charge for allegedly burning the rental car that he, Bryant and Martin used to drive from Tacoma to California, where investigators said the group was planning to buy cocaine.
The car was found torched in Centralia, Wash., on Christmas Day. Holmes was arrested four days later. Prosecutors in Washington agreed to drop the arson charge to allow a quicker progression of the murder case, said Shasta County District Attorney Dan Flynn
Much of the evidence collected in the arson case will be used against Holmes in the murder case, Flynn said.
The next step will be a preliminary hearing in which the prosecution will try to prove enough evidence exists for Holmes to stand trial on the charges.
Holmes is charged with shooting Bryant and Martin while they were traveling on Interstate 5 about 30 miles from Redding as well as stealing a large sum of money from Martin. A conviction for murder in California means a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
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