Arson suspect to be treated as adult

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A juvenile court judge on Tuesday determined that the teen accused in a Franklin Street arson will be treated as an adult.

However, the prosecutor in the case declined to name the 15-year-old, saying he wanted to “err on the side of caution.”

The boy’s eight felony charges now will be transferred to Circuit Court, where the evidence will be heard by a grand jury, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Wiser said after the hearing ended late Tuesday. If the grand jury indicts on the charges, the boy will face a trial.

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City spokeswoman Debbie George said she also could not release the boy’s name.

“Typically, we don’t, even if they’re judged an adult,” she said. “It’s a real gray area. There’s nothing that says that just because they’ve been tried as an adult [we have to release their name].”

The boy faces eight felony counts related to the July 24 fire — one count of arson of an unoccupied dwelling, two counts of arson of occupied dwellings and five counts of burning or destroying personal property.

The fire, which destroyed an occupied house, a duplex and an unoccupied home, along with a two-story garage, started in the vacant house and quickly spread to the buildings on either side.

A total of 11 people were displaced from their homes by the blaze, and four firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries suffered while fighting the fire.

The charges of burning or destroying personal property address the damage or destruction of four private vehicles and one fire truck during the fire.

Heat damage to the fire truck, a 2008 model, caused several emergency light lenses, the hose cover and some hose to melt, George said.

In determining whether to try the boy as an adult, the judge considers such factors as the child’s age, competency to stand trial, the seriousness of the offenses, the criminal and school records of the child, potential for effective treatment and rehabilitation in the juvenile system and more.