LEWISTON — A local police detective said Friday that he suspected within minutes of interviewing him that 12-year-old Brody Covey set a fire that burned three apartment buildings.

Covey, now 13, has been charged with three counts of arson, one for each of the apartment buildings in which 75 people had resided.

Lewiston police Detective Robert Morin said Covey’s story changed during the April 30 interview, a day after Covey had spoken as a witness with a state fire investigator at an emergency shelter at the Blake Street Towers on the day of the fire.

There were “a lot of little inconsistencies,” Morin told defense attorney Allan Lobozzo, who represents Covey.

Lobozzo filed a motion to suppress incriminating statements Covey made to police during an interview the day after the April 29 fire.

Lobozzo cross-examined Morin on Friday about his interview with Covey. A portion of that videotaped interview was replayed in 8th District Court. It was originally shown Monday, the day Covey’s suppression hearing began.


A second witness won’t be available until Aug. 5, when Covey’s hearing is expected to continue. That witness, psychologist Andrew Wisch, has conducted a court-ordered evaluation of Covey.

Lobozzo questioned Morin in an effort to determine when Covey’s status changed from witness to suspect in the eyes of police.

Morin said he “began to suspect something’s up” when Covey set the scene of his second-floor apartment at 109 Blake St., where he lived with his mother, her boyfriend and their two young children.

State law says a suspect has to be read a Miranda warning as soon as he is in custody.

Lobozzo suggested through his questioning of Morin that Covey was intimidated by police when he was taken into the station and sat in the interview room with the door closed.

Answering Lobozzo’s questions, Morin agreed that a 12-year-old was more vulnerable to outside influence than an adult, and that a 12-year-old was far less likely to demand that an interview be stopped. Also, Morin agreed that a 12-year-old was limited in his decision-making capacity.


Within 10 minutes of the interview at the Lewiston police station in a windowless, eight- by eight-foot closed room, Morin asked Covey, “Did you set it?”

Covey at first denied any involvement.

After Morin pressed him, telling him he sympathized with the poor living conditions at the condemned building, Covey eventually said he poured gasoline on the back porch of the apartment building and on some clothes, then lit them with a lighter.

Later, after Covey’s mother, Jessica Reilly, entered the interview room, Covey changed his story. He told her the fire was an accident, but then 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.


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

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