LEWISTON — A judge has found three teenagers accused of starting a fatal apartment building fire in 2021 not competent to stand trial.

Each of the three now-15-year-olds has been charged with felony murder and arson, the highest class of felonies in state law.

State investigators ruled as arson the fire at 226 Blake St. on Sept. 11, 2021.

The four-story apartment building was evacuated during the fire, but Felicien Betu, 70, was trapped on the top floor, investigators said.

He died from his injuries after he jumped from a window to escape the blaze, they said.

A district court judge has found three teenagers charged with felony murder and arson are not competent to stand trial for their alleged roles in a 2021 Lewiston fire that claimed the life of a local man. Above,firefighters battle a blaze Sept. 11, 2021, at 226 Blake St. in Lewiston where 70-year-old Felicien Betu died trying to escape the building. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

The teenagers were initially charged with arson, but the felony murder charge was added by the Office of the Maine Attorney General in October 2021 because Betu’s death happened during the alleged act of arson, which is a felony crime.


Two of the three juvenile’s names have not been made public. The Sun Journal has not published any of their names.

Active-retired District Court Judge Keith Powers ruled last year that none of the three juveniles was competent to continue with the criminal judicial process and future court hearings were suspended.

His ruling came after the defendants had been examined by a state forensic psychologist.

The teens are expected to be examined again periodically to determine whether they have become competent to proceed in court, according to Powers. No court documents indicated any of the charges against the three had been dismissed.

The teenagers were taken into custody after the fire and placed at Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland.

No information about their current detention was found in court files.

The fire heavily damaged the third and fourth floors in the 10-unit apartment building and left 27 tenants without housing, according to authorities.

Betu had been an adult education student locally.

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