Defendant's wife, 3-year-old daughter were in home when he tried to set fire to it, police said

A Taft man charged with trying to set fire to a house with three people inside it, including his 3-year-old daughter, will be sentenced next month after he entered a no contest plea to one count of arson.

Carl Lee Robertson, 47, was arrested on Dec. 17, three days after police and arson investigators said he doused the outside of a home on the 400 block of Church Street with gasoline with intent of burning the house.

Robertson's estranged wife and young daughter were in the house with a relative, police said.

When they smelled gasoline fumes, one man went out and saw Robertson pouring gas around the exterior of the home, Chief of Police Ed Whiting said.

Robertson fled in a car after being discovered, the chief said.

Police believe it was a deliberate attempt to kill the people inside.

“He made very significant threats to kill his wife and daughter,” Whiting said. “He made the threats and then attempted to carry it out but he was interrupted.”

Robertson is being held on $1 million bail awaiting a March 7 sentencing hearing.

He entered a no contest plea to the arson charge at a hearing on Feb. 5 in Kern County Superior Court.