Believer of Miracles
- Jul 7, 2018
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Snips: more @ linkWho are the three witnesses for the Defense who didn't show up in court? Did they show up today?
The boy denied to authorities that he set the fire, but his mother contends that he later confessed to her, saying he “prayed to God no one would die,” State’s Attorney Greg Minger said Thursday in closing remarks.
Differing accounts of the boy’s previous experience with setting fires and a possible explanation of the fatal fire that involved a furnace malfunction are explainable, said the prosecutor.
“No one wanted to believe someone set this fire on purpose, but the evidence shows otherwise,” said Minger.
Minger pointed to an opinion from the state fire marshal’s office that the heaviest damage to the mobile home appeared to be in the center of the residence, near a couch where the boy often slept.
The state has linked the child to several previous fires, both before and after the April 2019 fatal blaze.
Testimony from family members indicate the boy was in the vicinity of three other fires discovered before the mobile home fire that killed four of his relatives and his mother’s boyfriend. According to testimony from the boy’s aunt, he admitted to setting fire to a chair but denied involvement in the two other fires.
The state presented evidence that the child was responsible for a fire set in September 2021 while he was visiting a home in Peoria with five people inside. After the fire was discovered, he tried to blame an autistic child living in the home, said the prosecutor.
Evidence of similarities between the fire is striking, said Minger, and supports a case of “murder by arson — that’s what this is.”
“We don’t know where the fire started or who started it,” said the defense lawyer.
The then-9 year-old “had a history of admitting things he didn’t do,” said Dluski, adding that “our position is he should be found innocent because he did not commit the crime.”
In his ruling, Feeney acknowledged the similarities between the circumstances of the multiple fires. The boy’s initial denials and attempts to cover up the fires “shows his understanding of the wrongfulness of his conduct,” said the judge.
Feeney said testimony from the boy’s mother that she hid anything that could be used by her son to start a fire shows “she clearly was scared of his propensity to do something.”
Feeney said he considers the child “a teachable kid,” with “an educational problem,” rather than a mental health issue. As part of the evaluation process, the judge said he will be asking the psychiatrist for recommendations as to what is needed to restore the child to mental fitness.
After the hearing, Minger said, “at the end of the day, he can still have a trial if he’s found fit and it may have a different result – he may be found not guilty.”
The court process will mirror adult court in that negotiations may be conducted where charges are reduced, modified or dismissed as part of the resolution of the case. If he is found guilty at a trial, the punishment facing the teen will be no more severe than the consequences he faced as a 9-year-old: counseling and probation.
An April14 hearing is set to review the status of the evaluation.
Judge: State has sufficient evidence in Goodfield fire case bbm
The Goodfield boy accused of killing five people in a 2019 fire will be re-evaluated to determine if he is fit for trial after a Woodford County judge ruled not
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