Sifton teen pleads not guilty to arson

May 13 fire gutted his family's home in the Sifton area

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A 16-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree arson relating to a May 13 fire that gutted his family’s home in the Sifton neighborhood.

Alex Michael Smith waived a formal reading of the charges and entered his plea in juvenile court. Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis set trial for Aug. 17.

Smith’s attorney, Darcy Scholts, said that trial date will likely be postponed, as she needs to secure an expert witness for the defense.

Scholts also said she is drafting a proposal in favor of Smith’s release from juvenile detention.

Smith was arrested after he allegedly fetched a gas can from his family’s household shed and set the house ablaze around 9 a.m., according to court records.

His mother, Patricia Smith, told investigators that she and her son had argued earlier in the morning. She left the home and spoke with her son by phone, when he allegedly told her, “You will be sorry,” according to court documents.

Smith returned to the home, smelled smoke and helped her two other children evacuate. She had to drag Smith out of the house. No one was hurt.

Scholts has said in court documents that Smith suffered a head injury in an athletic match before the fire that could have altered his behavior.

A Superior Court judge decided earlier that Smith would be tried as a juvenile because it would offer better options for his mental health and academics.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.