On tape, boy tells officer, mother he set Lewiston blaze

Fires in Lewiston: Complete coverage of how the city battled a string of fires and worked to recover.

LEWISTON — A then-12-year-old city boy confessed to police and again to his mother in a videotape shown in court on Monday that he set a fire on the back porch of 109 Blake St. on April 29.

Brody Covey, now 13, was shown in a local police interview room talking first to Lewiston police Detective Robert Morin, then later to his mother, Jessica Reilly, on May 2.

Covey first said he poured gasoline on the back porch of the apartment building and on some clothes, then lit them with a lighter.

After Reilly entered the interview room and talked to her son, Covey first told her the fire was an accident but later said he had poured rubbing alcohol on a flattened cardboard box on the back porch, lit it and put it next to a nearby shed.

Covey's attorney, Allan Lobozzo, filed a motion to suppress statements Covey made to police about his involvement in the fire. Lobozzo's motion was heard in 8th District Court at noon on Monday. Judge Rick Lawrence continued the hearing to Friday after running out of time while viewing the lengthy police interview.

The District Attorney's Office said last week it would not seek to have Covey tried as an adult on three counts of arson. That means he would be tried in juvenile court and, if adjudicated (found guilty), he could be committed to a youth detention center until he is 21 years old.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Portas questioned Morin on Monday about events leading up to his interview of Covey.

Police videotaped Morin's interview with Covey, who was a seventh-grade student at Lewiston Middle School. The teenager — who was 12 years old at the time — at first denied setting the fire that destroyed three apartment buildings and left 75 people homeless. Starting at the Blake Street building, the fire quickly spread to two buildings on Bates and Pine streets.

Morin pressed Covey, saying he understood why the boy would want to destroy the building that the city had condemned.

Police had first interviewed the boy the day of the fire at the Blake Street Towers, where occupants of the burned-out buildings gathered to receive emergency services.

Covey first said he was watching the movie "The Hulk" on TV while sitting on his mother's bed. A friend was lying on the bed listening to music through headphones.

Covey told Morin he heard a crackling sound, then a popping sound coming from the kitchen and left the movie to investigate.

He said he saw the fire coming from the back porch through a smoky kitchen, then told his friend, whose nickname is Blaze. Blaze looked in the kitchen and the two fled the apartment and the building.

Covey told Morin he didn't really know how it happened and shook his head when asked if he set it.

Morin said Covey had changed his story since the day of the fire. The detective told the boy that nobody deserved to live in that building, which Morin called "disgusting."

"It just makes sense to me that you did it," Morin told Covey.

Covey protested, initially denying the charge.

"I'm actually kind of glad that it burned down," he then admitted, "but I'm pretty sure I didn't do it."

Covey later agreed with Morin's conclusion and said he did it because, "I was just getting tired of living there."

He said he lit a pile of clothes on the back porch, off the apartment's kitchen. He later added that he poured some gasoline on the clothes after Morin suggested an accelerant might have been used. Covey first said the gasoline can was empty, but later agreed with Morin that there was some in the can.

Covey told Morin he believed something else, such as a rumored Molotov cocktail, had contributed to the cause.

"The clothes wouldn't have really went up like that," Covey told Morin. When pressed again, Covey said he'd poured "a little bit" of gasoline left in the can on the porch and clothes before lighting them with a lighter he found in his pocket.

Later, Covey was alone in the room with Reilly, his mother. When pressed for a reason, Covey told her the fire was an accident. Reilly said he should tell that to police. Covey said police led him into a confession.

When Morin later recounted for Reilly the manner in which Covey started the fire, Reilly asked her son whether that was what he did.

Reilly told Morin the gasoline cans were empty.

"There was nothing in them," she said.

She told Covey he needed counseling. She said the fire was probably her fault because she had been ignoring Covey.

Covey then told her he poured rubbing alcohol on a cardboard box next to some toys on their back porch.

When Morin returned to the interview room, Reilly told Covey to tell the detective what he'd told her.

Covey repeated what he'd told Reilly, then told Morin that he'd put the cardboard box next to a shed on the porch.

When Morin reappeared again, he read Covey his Miranda rights.

Covey and Reilly sat in the courtroom watching themselves on large screens from the videotaped interview.

Covey, who wore a red T-shirt and black shorts Monday, has been held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday, when the suppression hearing is expected to conclude.

Also in 8th District Court on Monday was Abdi Ibrahim, 13, who was charged less than a week after Covey with four counts of arson in connection with a fire that burned four apartment buildings and a garage on Pierce and Bartlett streets.

Ibrahim's detention hearing was continued to Wednesday after "new information" has been reviewed, Judge Lawrence said.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com 

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Steve  Dosh's picture

On tape, boy tells officer, mother he set Lewiston blaze

Mainers, 13.07.23 14:30
. . Unlike Treyvon Martin , this kid can be interviewed about the alleged crime
hth ? , Steve

Leading authorities...

I understand that people are rightly outraged that an arsonist burned down those buildings, but has a court found this young man to be guilty yet? No. So it's premature to assume that "[t]his kid burned down three buildings and put 75 people out on the street with nothing," as Mr. Foss claims. I will wait to see what decision ultimately comes down, and I urge others to as well.

Also, am I the only one who finds the detective's questioning, at least as reported here, to be a bit leading?

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

The questioning was

The questioning was definitely a bit leading. "Did you do it? It's ok if you did. Hell, I was thinking about burning them down myself. Thanks for saving me the trouble kid. Just sign the confession and we'll wrap this thing up and go get an ice cream"

Carl Kimball's picture

KNOWS BETTER

At age 12 a child knows alot about right and wrong. "Nameing & Shaming" is the least of his future worries. It don't surprise me to hear, in this day and age, for us to feel sorry for him and get him all the help us taxpayers can give him. Most kids today do what they do to get attention to replace the lack of "discipline" and love they don't get at home. A lot of parents today expect others to raise their children, especially through government assistance programs. That is the biggest problem today, you gave birth to these children, then take responsiblity and raise them, if your not able to take on raising a child, then stop having them. This may come a cross as mean or harsh, but face it or just hand over ALL your Rights and just keep on letting the government do it all for you.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Yeah, let's make darn sure

Yeah, let's make darn sure this young man never gets a chance at a normal life because you've named and shamed him, just like you did with the 7-year-old firestarter whose publicity-hungry mother handed him over to you.

Noel Foss's picture

He didn't steal a candybar from the local corner store;

This kid burned down three buildings and put 75 people out on the street with nothing. At 12 (nearly 13), he should know the consequences of his actions, and if "Naming and Shaming" helps to keep him from doing it again, then it should be done.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

That's the paradox of mental

That's the paradox of mental illness. You can't get help until you do something. Once you've done something, you can't get help because you don't deserve it.

Kid knows what he did

and the knows what he did was wrong. Which would be the reason he lied about it at first. No sympathy here

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Because it is more fun to

Because it is more fun to judge and feel superior than to actually figure out why people do this stuff and help the next generation not do it at all. How many people will lose their homes and even die because you need someone to measure yourself against? Word to the wise: you'll come out bigger if you allow some real good to be done.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Oh, and sympathy has nothing

Oh, and sympathy has nothing to do with it. You can hate this kid but still allow programs to be created that would stop this from happening in the future. You just don't want to help people that you don't like.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Helping is about YOU. Not

Helping is about YOU. Not them.

Noel Foss's picture

While that may be true to an extent,

I'd be truly amazed if a full psychiatric evaluation wasn't included in the legal proceedings of this case.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Evals are great. Then what?

Evals are great. Then what?

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