UPDATE: Teen allegedly set house fire after argument
Prosecutor yet to decide if he will be tried as an adult
Monday, May 16, 2011
A 16-year-old Vancouver boy allegedly set fire to his house because he was upset at his mother after an argument, according to court documents.
After telling his mother, “You will be sorry,” Alex Michael Smith allegedly retrieved a gas can from the shed and set his family’s home ablaze.
Court documents filed Monday shed light on the Friday morning fire that destroyed the home in the 8500 block of Northeast 129th Avenue.
Smith made his first appearance in Clark County Juvenile Court on Monday morning on suspicion of first-degree arson, appearing before Family Court Coordinator Terry Vetter.
Vetter ordered that Smith remain at the Juvenile Detention Center and set his arraignment for Wednesday.
Vancouver attorney Darcy Scholts was appointed to represent him.
Deputy Prosecutor Rick Olson said in court that he didn’t know whether he would request that Smith be tried as an adult.
“Generally, I like to read the police reports before deciding on that,” Olson said.
In Washington, 16- and 17-year-olds charged with seriously violent offenses can be tried as adults.
Smith’s mother, Patricia Smith, attended the hearing and declined comment afterward. She said she doesn’t know details of the allegations and would comment later, once she had more information.
Vancouver firefighters were called to the house fire at 9:06 a.m. Friday.
A responding officer interviewed Jacob Smith, Alex Smith’s brother, who said he thought his brother started the blaze, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Patricia Smith told investigators that she and her son had argued that morning. She left and spoke with Alex Smith on the phone when he allegedly made the vague threat, according to court documents.
Upon returning, Patricia Smith smelled smoke, ushered her two other children out of the house and had to drag Alex Smith out.
When the fire was put out at about 10:30 a.m., and it became safe for Clark County Deputy Fire Marshal Curtis Eavenson to enter the house, it was determined the fire was intentionally set.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Alex Smith confessed to setting the fire because he was upset.
The home is owned by Michael and Patricia Smith, who are in the process of getting a divorce. Court records show the fire occurred the day after the couple’s wedding anniversary.
Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: Col_Courts.