Teen arson suspect to be charged as juvenile

Teen arson suspect to be charged as juvenile

A teenager suspected of setting more than a dozen fires in Spokane Valley will be prosecuted as a juvenile, not an adult, with prosecutors agreeing that even though the teen is facing a pair of first degree arson charges, he should still stand trial as a 16-year-old.

Juvenile prosecutors have no trouble playing hard ball with teenagers who repeatedly break the law and deserve to be punished as adults but the teen, who appeared in court Monday, doesn’t fit the bill. Aside from the arson charges he’s facing, the teen has no criminal history, is living at home and still very much under the care and control of his parents.

While in juvenile detention, he’s been evaluated by probation officers who find him to be well-mannered and amenable to treatment for the feelings of loneliness and resentment that he told investigators made him start the fires in the first place.

However keeping the teen juvenile court hardly means he’ll escape punishment. Because he allegedly set two houses on fire, he’s still looking at some serious time with the juvenile rehabilitation administration.

“The two counts of first degree arson carries a standard range sentence fo 103 to 129 weeks,” Commissioner Tony Rugel with Spokane Superior Court said. “The other charges, the counts of second degree arson carries zero to thirty days of detention.”

Tuesday the court will hear from mental health and probation officers who’ve spent the past month evaluating the teen and a judge will decide if there’s any way he could be released from detention, pending his trial, that would still assure community safety.