are searching for a Hesperia man wanted for tampering with a juror in connection with the recent trial of a convicted arsonist that killed five firefighters.

Officials said Christopher Vaughn Hillman tried to sway the jury in favor of his brother-in-law, Raymond Lee Oyler sentenced to death in June for starting the Esperanza Fire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.

Hillman, 47, was charged on Aug. 7 by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office with seven counts of felony tampering with a juror.

Officials said Wednesday that the charges stemmed from a February incident, where they learned Hillman was responsible for placing copies of newspaper clippings about Oyler's trial on the vehicles of jurors in the case. The flyers described pre-trial rulings by Judge W. Charles Morgan in Oyler's case, which prohibited the defense team from introducing certain evidence.

"He was trying to influence the jury by providing them with information that a judge ruled was inappropriate for a jury to hear," said Michael Jeandron, spokesman for the DA's office. "Fortunately we were able to achieve justice despite Hillman's effort."

Investigators went to Hillman's Hesperia home and discovered evidence connecting Hillman to the flyers.

During the investigation, officials said Hillman fled and has not been seen since. Authorities have made numerous attempts to get Hillman to surrender to no avail.

"Our judicial system must be protected and defended from those who may seek to corrupt it," said District Attorney Rod Pacheco in a written statement. "Tampering with jurors is one of the single greatest threats to our system."

In October 2006, Oyler started the Esperanza Fire in the Cabazon that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters. On June 5 of this year, Oyler was sentenced to death.

A $100,000 warrant has been issued for Hillman's arrest. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is encouraged to contact the District Attorney's Office at (951) 955-5400 or call WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME. WeTip informants may be eligible for up to $1,000 reward if their information leads to an arrest and conviction.

Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.