The juvenile suspect involved in the Andover Dollar General arson case appeared in court today. The sixteen-year-old suspect, who has been held in custody, is being charged with a level three aggravated arson felony.
Judge Kristin H. Hutchinson was asked to reconsider the need for detention of the suspect in light of his cooperation with authorities since his arrest.
"My client was very cooperative during the arrest," said Attorney Carl Maughan.. "He has shown remorse for his actions and he has shown concern for the people inside the store and those affected by his actions."
Maughan went on to explain that the suspect held on intent to harm anyone or damage any property on the day of the incident. The suspect's motivation was only to show off for a girl. The suspect has been attending Andover's E-Academy following his removal from the Douglas school district. The suspect was not removed from the district following any incident, but instead his removal was a choice by his mother in order to better his education. Following this instance, it remains in question as to whether the suspect will be able to return to the district despite his lack of a troubled past. The suspect's only prior run-in with the law is a marijuana possession charge.
The issue of the continued dentition of the suspect, which was partially fueled by some comments of the defendant while in custody.
"He can behave himself, he has shown that," said Maughan. "He has Tourette's Syndrome, which is characterized by the exhibition of impulsive ticks and an inability to prevent impulsive thoughts from being spoken. He has made statements that he would be better off dead, but I believe that this is due to the amount of stress in his life and the Tourette's Syndrome. Despite those comments, the security level did not change for the suspect. At no time was he placed on suicide watch."
The suspect, who lives in a single-parent home, frequently stays with his grandparents whom he is helping to care for.
"Three weeks prior to the suspect's arrest, the grandfather and the only father-figure in his life became very ill" said Maughan. "The defendant was arrested on a Thursday and the following day, his grandfather passed away. There is a lot of stress in this young man's life, but he is not a danger to himself. He is in need of counseling and a structured environment, which he can receive at home."
Prosecuting attorney Brett Sweeney was not convinced that further detention should be avoided in the case.
"The detainment of the suspect was ordered due to the the language and self-destructive behavior exhibited," began Sweeney. "This was a brand new store that opened approximately two months ago. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise was lost. A lot of people are out of a lot of money. If the court does decide to employ electronic monitoring of the suspect, I ask that it is made as strict as possible.
Page 2 of 2 - Judge Hutchinson, after hearing from both parties, ruled in favor of the electronic monitoring of the suspect as long as he stayed within the limits of either his home or his grandparent's home with supervision, continued attending school whether with the E-Academy or otherwise, kept his medical and counseling appointments and remained involved in both his school activities as well as his church activities. He was also ordered to have no contact with the juvenile female involved and is not permitted within any retail establishment.
The next control hearing in the case will be January 23 at 9 a.m.