Parents of teen arsonist apologize to Cocos Fire victims

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SAN DIEGO – The adoptive parents of a teen responsible for setting the Cocos Fire, a wildfire that destroyed 36 homes and caused over $10.4 million in damage, released a statement Thursday.

“We know that we can never make up for all the victims' losses, pain and suffering.

We are heartbroken that our daughter has hit an obstacle in her young life, which has not only devastated her and us, but also all the victims and their families with such pain, suffering and misery.

While this incident will remain with us forever, we hope that all of the victims may begin to heal a little and rebuild their lives as much as they can in the very near future.”

On Wednesday, Judge Howard Shore ordered the 14-year-old girl must write apology letters to all the victims of the fire, pay $40,000 in restitution and work 400 hours of community service. She will serve no time in jail.

Shore ruled the teenager acted willfully and maliciously, but there was no evidence she wanted to hurt someone or something.

Criminal defense attorney and juvenile law expert Brian Watkins, who is not involved with this case, said Thursday although so many outsiders believe the teen’s sentence may seem like a slap on the wrist, what the judge gave her is appropriate under the law.

Watkins said although the fire she sparked devastated so many the judge punished her appropriately for her actions - not for the result of her actions.

"Her crime was recklessly playing with fire. It ended up in a very devastating result, but however her actions were just that. Playing with fire not intentionally going to someone’s home and setting that house on fire with the purpose of burning down that home that’s not what she did," said Watkins.

Individuals under the age of 18 who commit crimes that are beyond the "pale of a civilized society, destroy lives and shake communities to their core, do forfeit the rights and opportunities available in the juvenile justice system."

5 comments

  • travis

    The focus needs to be on payback. That Lil thug and her parents owe me and my traumatized kids several thousand in hotel fees.

    • 0928texas

      “The focus needs to be on payback.”

      Yeah, that will teach a 14 year old kid a lesson; let’s throw a little Old Testament eye-for-an-eye at her! I suspect your kids were traumatized well before the fire by merely being in your presence.

      Other than making you feel good, what purpose would some other punishment serve? And if all you really want is to feel good because someone else is suffering what does that make you? I suspect that this girl learned a whole lot of life-lessons well before her sentence was announced and, like most of the kids in the juvenile justice system, will learn more during her probation.

  • Tom

    Can anyone cause so much harm and just get slapped on the wrist, say sorry and move on to more of the same?

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