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BOY, 11, CHARGED IN GREELEY HOME FIRES – PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS ORDERED FOR YOUTH

BOY, 11, CHARGED IN GREELEY HOME FIRES – PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS ORDERED FOR YOUTH

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, August 6, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 36A
An 11-year-old boy accused of torching three homes under construction, two of which were being built by Habitat for Humanity, was charged with three counts of first-degree arson and three counts of burglary Wednesday.

The boy confessed to starting the three fires when he was interviewed by Greeley police July 29 after a witness identified the boy in a police lineup. The fires occurred early on July 13, 14 and 17.

On Thursday, a judge ordered the boy to the Fort Logan Mental Health Facility for psychological evaluation after a closed hearing, according to Tom Chagolla, Greeley Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, who attended the hearing as a victim of the arsons.

Chagolla said the juvenile was ordered to the facility because he was not mentally competent to comprehend the charges.

“I’m glad the judge did what she did because I think it was obvious to everyone that this kid wasn’t in a good state of mind,” Chagolla said.

Chagolla also said the judge ordered the parents to cooperate with the Department of Human Services to determine what needs to be done to help the boy.

“He and his parents, because he’s a juvenile, have to be accountable for his actions,” Chagolla said. “His actions have a direct impact on his parents and rightly so. Parents need to know where their kids are at night.”

Patryce Engel, Larimer County chief deputy district attorney, said the boy could be placed into the custody of social services, and could face probation and up to two years in youth corrections.

She said he will not be charged as an adult because only minors over the age of 14 are charged as adults in Colorado.

“It’s hard to believe a juvenile that age can cause that much damage,” Chagolla said. “We pray for him and his family and of course our families.”

He said volunteers will put the roofs on the Habitat homes burned by this weekend and that Tomas Landin – whose home was the first to be burned – and his family have picked out carpet for their future home.

“It helps heal,” Chagolla said. “Everything positive that’s happening is helping them to heal the devastation that they went through.”

The boy will appear in court for his bond hearing and further advisement at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Weld County Courthouse.

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