Security videos from neighboring businesses showed four males who looked to be juveniles enter a Hamilton warehouse during the early morning house of July 25, according to police. Minutes later they ran out the door and flames were soon visible, which has led to charges for a teen who is said to be one of them.
The teen who police say set the fire was in Butler County Juvenile Court on Monday for a hearing on charges of arson, aggravated arson and breaking and entering, all felonies.
Prosecutors want the charges against the boy, now 18, bound over to adult court.
MORE: Prosecutor: Teen arrested in giant Hamilton warehouse fire could be tried as an adult
Hamilton Detective Robert Horton said investigators were able to identify the four males seen on the video and question three of them
The teen said they were hanging out and entered the west side of the warehouse through a door. They were climbing on a bin of plastic when the accused teen put a lighter to the plastic, Horton said during testimony.
“He took a lighter, lit the plastic while they were on top of it, they jumped down and ran out,” Horton said.
During questioning by defense attorney Edward Perry, Horton said all three boys pointed to the teen as the person who lit the fire.
Horton said there was no evidence an accelerant was used to light the fire, but the teen said they all attempted to put out the fire before leaving the building.
“Seriously, one light from the a lighter caused this fire?” Perry said, questioning whether that was enough to start a fire that large.
The defense attorney also pointed out there was not evidence other that the witnesses. The video shows only the four entering and exiting the building.
After the hearing, Judge Ronald Craft found probable cause in the case. A Nov. 1 hearing date was set for the judge to determine if the case will stay in juvenile court or be transferred to adult court. The teen remains housed in the county’s juvenile detention center.
MORE: Records: Teen accused in massive Hamilton warehouse fire violated juvenile probation 16 times
According to juvenile court documents, the teen trespassed at 999 Laurel Ave. with the intention of committing a crime, and once inside, he started a fire that damaged the unoccupied structure and six other houses. Cleanup will cost an estimated $100,000, according to police.
In August 2015, the teen was charged with receiving stolen property by the West Chester Police Department. The teen was placed on probation, given a stay away order, told to make restitution and given 12 hours of community service.
The teen’s probation was violated on that charge in November 2015 and February 2015.
West Chester police charged the teen with misdemeanor criminal trespass and criminal damaging in March 2016. He stayed in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center for 15 days and was placed on probation and given a $10 fine plus court costs.
Since March 2016, the teen has received 13 probation violations that have sent him back to JDC and placed him on house arrest. He was also charged with truancy by Hamilton City Schools in February 2017.
PHOTO: Aftermath of massive Hamilton fire that could be seen for miles
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