Ex-California fire chief convicted of stabbing girlfriend to death: newspaper

Orville Fleming, 55, of Sacramento, California, is pictured in this undated handout photo. Fleming is accused of killing 26-year-old Sarah Douglas at their Sacramento home on May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Sacramento County Sheriff's Department/Handout via Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A former California fire chief, who evaded capture for two weeks after his live-in girlfriend was found stabbed to death at their home, was convicted of murder on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Orville "Moe" Fleming was convicted of second-degree murder after three days of deliberation by a jury, the Times reported citing Sacramento County District Attorney spokeswoman Shelly Orio.

Before his arrest, investigators had been searching desperately for Fleming, who was missing for days after police discovered the body of 26-year-old Sarah Douglas in their Sacramento home last May.

Believing him armed and dangerous, the sheriff's department asked hikers and residents of the state's massive mountain ranges and the picturesque Yosemite Valley to watch for someone matching his description.

In the end, just as detectives were set to expand their manhunt to Mexico and Canada, Fleming was spotted getting off a bus he boarded to buy food, officials said. He had been hiding in the bushes not far from where his state fire vehicle was found days earlier.

Fleming was fired as a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) for failing to come to work since the day before Douglas's body was found.

Following an ethics investigation into Fleming, launched after his estranged wife alleged firefighters were having sex with prostitutes at the state fire academy, two firefighters were dismissed and 13 others punished.

The accusations about prostitutes were found to be baseless, Cal Fire said, but the probe uncovered unrelated cases of employees violating departmental policies, ranging from dishonesty to misuse of state equipment and misuse of state time.

The agency said 16 employees had been placed on administrative leave. Cal Fire said two were terminated, one resigned, and the 13 others faced punishments that included suspension, demotion and pay cuts.

Fleming is set to be sentenced on July 31 and faces 15 years to life in prison with an extra year for carrying out the killing with a knife, the Times reported.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Nick Macfie)