July 24, 2013

Lewiston arson suspect, 13, to be held at treatment facility

Based on a psychological evaluation, Abdi Ibrahim will be transferred while he awaits trial, a judge rules.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

LEWISTON – A judge on Wednesday ordered a 13-year-old Lewiston boy to be transferred from a juvenile detention center to a residential treatment facility while he awaits trial on arson charges in connection with a May 3 blaze that destroyed four apartment buildings.

click image to enlarge

Firefighters battle a blaze early on May 4 that destroyed apartment buildings in Lewiston. The boy who is accused of setting the fire has been ordered held at a treatment facility until his court hearing.

Abdi Ibrahim has been held at Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland since his arrest in connection with the fire that leveled three buildings on Pierce Street and another on Bartlett Street. The blaze was one of three in downtown Lewiston in a span of just over a week this spring.

Based on the results of a psychological evaluation, Judge Rick Lawrence in Lewiston District Court agreed with Ibrahim's defense attorneys that a treatment facility would be a better place for the boy to be held.

Richard Charest, who was filling in Wednesday for Ibrahim's attorney, Jeffrey Dolley, said the treatment center, whose location he would not disclose, would have 24/7 monitoring and other safety measures in place.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Portas disagreed with the recommendation and said that based on the severity of the alleged crimes and on Ibrahim's lack of remorse since the arrest, the boy should stay at Long Creek.

"(Long Creek) is the only environment that can assure public safety while the case is pending," Portas said.

But Judge Lawrence said the state's juvenile criminal code calls for juveniles suspected of serious crimes to be held in the least restrictive environment.

"Continued detention at Long Creek may be counterproductive in trying to control his impulsive behavior," the judge said, adding that Ibrahim would continue to associate with a negative peer group if he stayed at Long Creek.

Ibrahim did not speak during Wednesday's brief court hearing. His parents sat with him at the table in the courtroom, and several other supporters sat behind him. When the hearing ended, the boy received several hugs before he was led back into custody.

Ibrahim will be held at Long Creek until Wednesday, when the alternative facility will be prepared to accept him, according to Charest. A date for his trial has not been set.

Another juvenile charged in an April 29 file that leveled three Lewiston buildings will appear in court Friday. Brody Covey, 13, but 12 at the time of the fire, had appeared before Judge Lawrence on Monday but that hearing was continued. At issue is whether a video of Covey confessing to setting the fire will be allowed into evidence.

Covey's attorney, Alan Lobozzo, is challenging the evidence on the basis that the Lewiston police officer did not read the boy his Miranda rights until nearly two hours into his interview.

Between the April 29 and May 3 fires, nearly 200 people lost their homes.

Two adults – Brian Morin, 30, and Bryan Wood, 23 – are accused of setting a third fire on May 6 that destroyed two abandoned buildings on Bartlett Street. Morin already has pleaded guilty. Wood has not yet been arraigned. 

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

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