Charge lowered against teen accused of starting fire in Glenwood Park
July 26, 2012
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A charge has been reduced against a local teenager accused of setting off fireworks that sparked a two-acre brush fire in the Glenwood Park neighborhood on June 27.
The 17-year old, who is being tried in juvenile court, was placed on home-detention status Wednesday by Garfield County Judge Paul Metzger, with supervision by YouthZone while the case proceeds.
The youth was arrested the evening of the fire, after he and a friend walked up the Three Mile trail while firefighters battled the fast-moving blaze. The two teens had tried to put out the fire, but it quickly got away from them and burned uphill to the back fence of a Glenwood Park home.
The fire started along the Roaring Fork River, just south of the Three Mile Creek confluence and the new Atkinson Ditch bike path, and downhill from several homes.
The second youth was not charged.
The defendant and his parents appeared before Judge Metzger in juvenile court on Wednesday. They told the judge they would not need an attorney and that they would be working directly with Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey to resolve the case.
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The defendant originally was charged with arson, a class four felony if charged as an adult. An adult convicted of arson would face a potential sentence of between one and 12 years in prison.
The youth also is charged with possession of a switchblade knife, a misdemeanor, and possession of alcohol by a minor, a petty offense.
The charge of arson, however, was modified by Hershey to a charge of setting fire to woods or prairie lands, a less severe class six felony for adult defendants. If convicted, according to Colorado’s sentencing guidelines, an adult would face up to three years in prison.
The “firing” charge is a felony in this case, Hershey said, because there was a statewide fire ban in place at the time of the incident.
“I just wanted to remind you of the severity of the event, or how severe it could have been,” Hershey said during the court hearing.
If convicted on the fire-setting charge, the judge said, the youth could face a sentence of up to two years in a juvenile detention facility.
The judge warned the defendant that YouthZone supervision might involve counseling or other requirements, and that if he violated the restrictions he could end up in a juvenile facility.
The judge also ordered that the home detention be tied to a $1,000 personal recognizance bond, which could be forfeit if the conditions of the bond are violated.
In response to an invitation from the judge, the youth’s father said his son has been working to earn money to pay the costs associated with his case, and said the youth generally has been sticking close to home other than when he goes to his job.
“We just want to get this resolved,” the father said. “And I’m not trying to minimize this. I know how serious it was.”
The defendant is due in court again at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 22.