Teens accused in SJ school fire due in court

Arson investigators are at the scene of the fire at Trace Elementary School on Dana Avenue where one firefighter was injured.
October 20, 2010 7:31:31 AM PDT
The two teenagers accused of starting a fire that heavily damaged a San Jose school are scheduled to be in court Wednesday to enter a plea.

The 16 and 17-year-old boys face charges in the Trace Elementary School arson that could land them in prison for life.

These two boys face one of the worst possible punishments, life in prison, for setting a school fire. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office says it decided to charge them as adults because of the extreme seriousness of the crime. The DA says there is evidence that the arson was premeditated, not a high school prank gone wrong.

San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald last week announced the arrests of the two young suspects accused of starting the massive July 5 arson fire at Trace Elementary School.

More than 150 firefighters responded, but couldn't save a 25,000 square foot main building at the Dana Avenue campus. It burned to the ground, and in total, the fire caused $10 million of damage.

Students have since returned to school, but many remain in portable classrooms during the rebuilding.

The two accused arsonists are 16-year-old Lazarus Reavallez and 17-year-old Kliefert Guiang, both San Jose residents who last attended Del Mar High School.

The teen boys were arraigned last week as adults on one felony count of aggravated arson. The DA's office say it's not unheard of, since it has charged other juveniles as adults for serious crimes that did not involve injuries.

In what some legal analysts call an unusual move, the court has set no bail, even though no one was hurt.

The teens remain in custody at juvenile hall. Their plea hearing is at 2:00 Wednesday afternoon in county superior court. If convicted, they face 10 years to life in prison.


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