LEWISTON — Abdi Ibrahim, the teen facing four charges of arson in a spree of downtown fires last year, has been found competent to stand trial.

In January, the case against the now 14-year-old was suspended after District Court Justice John Beliveau found the state had not met its burden proving the Lewiston boy was competent to stand trial. At the time, the court found there was reason to believe Ibrahim could become competent at a later date, and ordered a second psychiatric evaluation within 60 days.

That evaluation was done in two parts, on March 6 and March 18. A closed hearing before Justice Rick Lawrence on the conclusions of that examination was held Aug. 4 in 8th District Court in Lewiston. Based on testimony presented during that hearing, the court has found Ibrahim is now competent for trial.

The court also ended the suspension of the court proceedings, and the prosecution will now move forward. According to Ibrahim’s attorney, Jeffrey Dolley, the court will schedule a status conference to meet with the defendant and with Assistant District Attorney Melanie Portas to decide how the case will proceed. That conference has not yet been scheduled.

The competency hearing was attended by Ibrahim and Dolley; Portas; Ibrahim’s parents, Yussuf Ali and Marian Ibrahim; an interpreter; a representative of the state Department of Health and Human Services; a juvenile community corrections officer and expert witnesses, including Ibrahim’s psychiatrist.

Like the first competency hearing, it was closed and the findings offered by the State Forensic Service are sealed because, according to a court order, “they contain significant confidential mental health information pertinent only to the question of the juvenile’s competency,” which is not public information.


Hearings dealing with the prosecution of this case are open to the public.

On Monday, Dolley said the finding of competency, “was not the result we had hoped for.

“I’m not sure that I agree that this child is competent,” he said, but Lawrence “did a nice job giving us our opportunity to be heard and to cross-examine witnesses,” including the forensic psychologist who conducted Ibrahim’s mental health evaluations.

Ibrahim was charged with four counts of arson stemming from fires that burned four apartment buildings and a garage on Bartlett and Pierce streets on May 3, 2013. He was 12 years old at the time.

A report by a state fire investigator said Ibrahim had confessed to setting a fire at the back of a three-bay garage behind an apartment building at 149 Bartlett St.

After initially denying he was involved, Ibrahim later said he started the fire alone by lighting a cigarette and paper with a lighter, using gasoline as an accelerant.


Dolley has filed a motion to suppress statements Ibrahim made to law enforcement interviewers in the days following the fire but, since the case was suspended, that motion has not yet been heard. One of the things the attorneys will discuss at the status conference will be scheduling the motion to suppress Ibrahim’s confession.

According to court records, Ibrahim had been interviewed at the Lewiston Police Department with his mother, Marian, who was assisted by an interpreter over the phone. He waived his Miranda rights, including his right to remain silent, according to a report by Christopher Sanford, an investigator at the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

In his motion, Dolley argued that any statements made by Ibrahim were not voluntary. “Any Miranda warnings that may have been given were not provided in a manner that would be adequate for the juvenile, under his circumstances, to enable him to freely and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights,” Dolley wrote.

According to investigators, Ibrahim said two other juveniles were with him on the day of the fires at Bartlett and Pierce streets, but he was the one who started the fire. He drew a diagram of the scene for them.

The other two boys were questioned later. They said they had gone to the garage on Bartlett Street with Ibrahim after school, but waited outside or just inside the door while Ibrahim went to the back of the garage.

One of the boys said he could see Ibrahim sitting at the far end, smoke coming from his mouth and hand. About half an hour later, the three boys left, one of the boys said.


Investigators used a dog trained to sniff out the scent of liquid accelerant. The dog detected accelerant on Ibrahim’s shoes, which were collected by police as evidence before his interview at the police station.

No accelerant was detected on the shoes of the other two boys, according to Sanford’s report.

According to court records, Ibrahim described the inside of the garage for Sanford and a Lewiston police detective, who said Ibrahim’s description of the interior and its contents matched that given by investigators during their examination of the scene.

Ibrahim is one of four Lewiston residents charged in the spree of arsons in the spring of 2013.

Three counts of arson filed against Bryan Wood, 23, have been dismissed. He had been charged with setting fires that destroyed two apartment buildings on Bartlett Street and one building on Horton Street on May 6, 2013.

A judge later ruled that, based on his low IQ and inability to fully understand the criminal proceedings against him, he should be released to the custody of the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, who, in turn, would free him.


Brian Morin, 30, also was charged with three counts of arson in the same fires. Last week, he was sentenced to serve 25 years in state prison, with all but five years suspended. Prosecutors had been seeking a seven-year sentence.

Morin will serve 12 years on probation when he is freed and will not be permitted to have any incendiary devices and will have to stay away from the area of the downtown fires. Should he violate terms of his probation, he may have to serve some or all of the remaining 20 years in prison.

And, the case against Brody Covey, now 14, who had been charged with three counts of arson in the fires that destroyed three apartment buildings on Blake, Bates and Pine streets on April 29, 2013, has been dismissed because he was not read his Miranda warning while in custody.

Covey lived in the Blake Street building, which had been condemned by the city. He has since been placed in a residential foster home outside Lewiston.

According to district court records, Ibrahim’s attorney has asked the court to release Ibrahim from the residential care facility in Southern Maine where he has been treated since his detention, and place him in a juvenile corrections-approved location. A hearing on that request is scheduled for Aug. 18.


Fires in Lewiston

Complete coverage of how the city battled a string of fires and worked to recover.

More coverage of the Bartlett Street fire:

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