Judge suppresses boy's confession in Lewiston arson

Sun Journal file photo

Crews from Gendron and Gendron of Lewiston work to demolish 105-111 Blake St. and 172 Bates St. in Lewiston after fire destroyed the buildings in April 2013. The two buildings were in danger of imminent collapse.

LEWISTON — A judge on Wednesday ordered that the confession of a 13-year-old local boy charged with three counts of arson in a rash of apartment building fires in the city's downtown be suppressed.

Eighth District Court Judge Rick Lawrence ruled on a motion to suppress statements made to police by then-12-year-old Brody Covey during a May interview.

In that police interview, Covey admitted setting a fire April 29 on the second-floor back porch at 105 Blake St.

Lawrence wrote in his order that Covey's confession to the detective should be suppressed because he was in police custody but had not been read his rights when he made those statements.

The judge also ruled that Covey's confession to his mother while in the police interview room following his interrogation by a detective is not admissible at trial.

Covey’s attorney, Allan Lobozzo, had argued in court that police neglected to read Covey his legal rights after he became a suspect during the interview, and that the teen didn't understand the consequences of talking to police. Lobozzo also argued that any incriminating statements Covey made after his police interview should be viewed as "fruit of the poisonous tree."

Lawrence agreed, writing: "The statements made by the juvenile to Mr. (Charles) Epps (Covey's stepfather) and to his mother could not be obtained through a source that was wholly independent of the primary constitutional violation."

"I'm delighted for Brody," Lobozzo said Wednesday. "This is the right result supported by the right facts and the proper legal conclusion, really boiling down to the fact that they didn't read a 12-year-old his rights. So, anything that flows from that violation is fruit of the poisonous tree and also gets excluded."

District Attorney Norman Croteau said Wednesday he would review the decision with the prosecutor handling the case before deciding whether to appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. He said the state could also go ahead with its case — without a confession — or drop the charges. 

Prosecutors likely have little physical evidence connecting Covey to the fires. The Blake Street building was destroyed. Fire investigators had to view the scene from a crane. The remains of the building were demolished within days of the fire.

On May 2, three days after fire consumed the Blake Street building along with two other buildings on Bates and Pine streets, leaving 75 people homeless, Lewiston police went to the Ramada Inn where the fire victims had been temporarily housed to talk to witnesses, including Covey and Epps.

Covey was driven to the police station in a police car and seated in a small, “fairly stark” concrete-block room alone with a single detective for a videotaped interview. Less than 10 minutes into the interview, Detective Robert Morin asked Covey whether he started the fire. Covey at first denied it. Morin told Covey he “had a right to be angry; anyone would be angry being in there,” living in a condemned building. Covey then admitted to setting the fire.

Covey's mother, Jessica Reilly, was called by police to come to the station after Covey confessed to Morin. In a conversation with her in the police interview room, Covey called the fire an accident. He told her he set the fire but changed details about how he had done it.

He has been released from a juvenile corrections center and transferred to a therapeutic residential foster home. An effort was made to move him from Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland to a home outside the city before the start of the school year.

Meanwhile, workers from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services removed Covey's half-siblings from the Bartlett Street apartment of his mother and stepfather.

Less than one week after the Blake Street fire, three others were charged with setting two fires that burned more downtown apartment buildings.

Another then-12-year-old local boy was arrested and charged with four counts of arson for setting a fire that burned four buildings on Pierce and Bartlett streets. A court hearing to determine his competency to stand trial is scheduled for mid-November. 

Two men were charged with arson in a fire that burned two vacant apartment buildings on Bartlett Street and an occupied apartment building on Horton Street. One of the men, Bryan Wood, was found not competent to stand trial and released. The other, Brian Morin, is at Riverview Psychiatric Center, where he is undergoing a psychological evaluation.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Randall Pond's picture

The Parents

NOT The Child should go to Jail on this one. Sorry some people shouldn't have Kids. if you're more interested in Drugs and alcohol than properly raising a child to do right from wrong and being a RESPONSIBLE Parent Which IRRESPONSIBLE PARENTING RUNS RAMPANT IN LEWISTON AUBURN AS WE HAVE KIDS HAVING KIDS!

A Parent's Right and a Teacher's Right to Discipline Children was taken away back in the mid 1970's. You cannot Discipline a child today and if you touch them wrong it's child abuse! Who has the rights anymore?

Let's get the Riff Raff out of Lewiston Auburn and STOP Blaming Everything on the Somali Community. They aren't perfect and neither are we White Folks or Any Color Folks, PERIOD! It's Not THEM AND US! it is EVERYONE THAT MAKES A COMMUNITY!

You Don't like what's going on? Stand up and Make a Change, and Vote and get Involved! PUT UP, OR SHUT UP!

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

If any teacher had ever put their hands on me

If any teacher had ever put their hands on me when I was a kid I'd be looking their name up today so I could track them down and put a beating on them. If I had kids and a teacher put their hands on them I'd be at the school the next day smashing the fool in front of the entire class.

 's picture

!!!!!!!!!

Eric are you really serious that you would look up a teacher and beat them????

Who in their right mind makes those kinds of a threats?????

Roger  Cyr's picture

charlotte

an un fit parentwould

 's picture

the little firebug

needs to go JAIL...not juve hall but jail... let him rot for 25 yrs. & maybe that will make him think twice about setting fire to another person's home.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I understand where you're

I understand where you're coming from, Godie, but this boy needs consultation and proper guidance, not incarceration. He needs to be placed as far away from his mother and stepfather as possible. We are all products of our growing up environment. This kid is a victim of his. And, no, if you're familiar with any of my posts, you know I am not one who looks for a victim in every situation.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Seventh word should have been

Seventh word should have been Gordie....sorry about that

Steve  Dosh's picture

Gordie ? Like you ( or me or

Gordie ? Like you ( or me or Andrew ) have never played with matches before . .HAhahHAHah !
Pyro-mainiacs
This is exactly - why - there is a judge and judicial system protecting this kid
Think of him as if he were your own son , nephew , or grandchild ( if you have any )
btw - I have three sons that i know of
The wheels of Justice grind slowly but ever so - f i n e l y - guys and girls
/s, Steve , former police trainer
http://www.maine.gov/corrections/facilities/ccf/index.htm

 's picture

Under 21

Seems like every time a teen or child these days gets caught or arrested for doing something,the first thing a lawyer does is find a way to give them a get out of jail free card.That adolescent is incompetent to stand trial,insane,mental problems or whatever problems to keep them from being punished for what they have done.GOD for bid any one under 21 these days that gets held accountable for their actions.Give him a slap on the wrist and let him go free.Same old same old. story.

Andrew Jones's picture

When all is said and done,

When all is said and done, will anybody be answering for this crime?

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Well, he's got "Scooter" as a

Well, he's got "Scooter" as a back-up- lawyer--lots of experience there.

 's picture

If he's a minor...

...and protected because he's a minor, why is he subject to Miranda?

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .Is he your son or relative

. .Is he your son or relative , Bob ? jus' askin' /s Steve

 's picture

No.

And I don't understand why you're jus' askin'. Oh. Now I understand. I just looked at your profile and you went to Bates.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

There is a lot we still don't

There is a lot we still don't know. He changed his story more than once.. the stepfather publicly threatened to burn the place down. How do we know the child is not covering for him?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Judge orders suppression of Lewiston boys' arson confession

Mainers , 11:11 est ? Wednesday
He's a minor , that's why
hth , Steve

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .btw - in ƒrance ppl are

. .btw - in ƒrance ppl are considered guilty until proven innocent . Not here ;) hth, Steve

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That's the case with the IRS,

That's the case with the IRS, too.

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