AUBURN, Maine — Prosecutors decided Thursday they would not seek to have a 13-year-old Lewiston boy tried as an adult on arson charges in an April fire that burned three downtown Lewiston buildings and left 75 people homeless.
District Attorney Norman Croteau said Thursday he had reviewed the fire investigator’s report and a psychological evaluation before reaching the decision, along with Assistant District Attorney Melanie Portas, the county’s juvenile prosecutor.
Allan Lobozzo, a lawyer who represents the boy, said Thursday he was “delighted” to hear his client would remain in the juvenile court system.
“It would have been ludicrous if they had tried” to bind the boy over to Androscoggin County Superior Court to be tried as an adult, Lobozzo said.
Croteau said he and Portas studied the legal criteria that the court must consider, including the nature and seriousness of the offense, characteristics of the juvenile, prior criminal record, emotional condition, age and the safety of the community.
“The information we have is not sufficient to meet that burden,” Croteau said, given the “totality of the circumstances.”
Prosecutors hadn’t decided whether to seek a hearing aimed at binding over to Androscoggin County Superior Court a second juvenile who was charged with four counts of arson in a fire that burned four apartment buildings less than a week later.
Portas said Thursday she hadn’t received a final report on the boy’s psychological evaluation.
Once she has, she and Croteau will review it and the fire investigator’s report before deciding whether to file a motion to have him bound over as an adult.
If the boy linked to the first fire is found guilty of the arson charges, he could be committed to a youth detention center up to his 21st birthday, according to Maine law.
A Class A felony, such as arson, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison if a person is convicted as an adult.
One boy was charged in the April 29 fire on Bates and Pine streets. The other boy is charged in the May 3 fire on Pierce and Bartlett streets.
Police said they don’t believe the two boys or the fires are connected.
Both boys denied the charges at separate arraignments in 8th District Court in Lewiston on May 13.
The boy charged in the first fire lived in one of the apartment buildings that was destroyed April 29. The fire quickly spread to two buildings on Bates and Pine streets. He was charged in a juvenile petition through the Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal. Police said they believe the fire started at the back of the building.
His family had been ordered to leave the Blake Street property but had filed a temporary restraining order to be allowed to remain in their second-floor apartment until a court hearing that was scheduled for two days after the fire.