Case remains in juvenile court system
The second of two teens was taken into state custody today after pleading guilty to arson in connection with the fire that destroyed part of a meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last December.
Less than a month after his accomplice was sentenced on similar charges, the second teen pleaded guilty to second-degree felony arson, third-degree felony burglary, and theft. Judge Sterling Sainsbury of the 4th District Juvenile Court determined the case would remain in the juvenile court system, sparing the teen of being tried as an adult for a second degree felony arson.
The 17-year-old was placed in the custody of Juvenile Justice Services (JJS), who will have supervisory jurisdiction over him until he turns 21. The court sentenced him to detention pending release to secure confinement.
The boy has been in confinement since his arrest in December, today’s sentence will put him under the supervision of JJS whose parole board will determine where he will be placed within 30 days. Following his stay in juvenile detention he will be placed in state secure confinement for a time.
Upon release from secure confinement the boy could go to the Genesis work camp, where his accomplice was sent earlier this month to start working off restitution.
Sainsbury made it clear that the boy’s sentence would be influenced by his behavior in JJS services.
“He needs to serve his time with courage,” said the judge. “Hopefully it will put him in a position where once he’s through with the JJS system he will no longer be a danger to himself or to the public and he will have an opportunity to rehabilitate himself.”
Both the defense and the prosecution felt the sentencing was fair. Defense Attorney Margaret Lindsay said after the hearing she was glad the teen would stay in the juvenile system.
“Well in a situation like this where it’s really not a question of guilt or innocence…I was just looking out for his best interest and in my opinion that was to try and keep his adult record clean and keep him in the juvenile system,” she said.
Lindsay feels the confinement will be a challenge for the boy who will be under the review of the Youth Parole Authority.
“It’s going to be based on his needs and performance,” said Lindsay. “If he works hard on his schooling and starts his counseling, gets along with his peers and is respectful to staff and follows the rules, all of that will be taken into consideration.”
Lindsay said mediation between the boy and the LDS church are yet to take place, but is optimistic about reaching a resolution.
“I think they want these boys to succeed,” she said of the church.
Prosecutor Nicole Ferguson was also pleased with the sentencing. “I think it was appropriate,” she said. “I think he needed to go to secure (confinement). He needs to be in custody and he needs to be in treatment and counseling.”
Ferguson said her goal going into the case was to make sure the teen is no longer a threat to the community.
“He won’t be released until he’s not a danger to the community,” she said.
The teen accomplice who was sentenced earlier this month met with LDS church officials today to discuss mediation. Although Ferguson could not disclose details of that meeting, she was confident a resolution could be reached.
“I think it’s going to resolve,” she said. “They (the church) want to do what’s best for the two youth. They want to work with these kids.”
The teen sentenced earlier this month is currently in the Genesis work camp until the judge reviews his case in two months.
Both teens pleaded guilty to arson, burglary, and theft. The theft charges dealt with $7 stolen from an office in the meetinghouse and food taken from the kitchen that was meant for a fundraiser. The burglary charges were for breaking and entering through a window in the building.