Public defender appointed for teen charged in Monticello school arson

Public defender appointed for teen charged in Monticello school arson

MONTICELLO — A 16-year-old Monticello High School student charged with arson made his first court appearance in Piatt County Court in Monticello Thursday.

The youth is accused of starting a fire in a boys' restroom in Monticello's Washington Elementary School on Jan. 31.

The fire prompted the temporary evacuation of students from the school and caused an estimated $25,000 damage, according to school officials.

There were no injuries.

In juvenile court Thursday, the youth was appointed a public defender, who will appear with him at a status hearing scheduled for Feb. 28.

Associate Judge Richard L. Broch Jr. told the accused that if convicted, possible sentencing could include court supervision on up to three to seven years in prison, since arson is a Class 2 felony.

Monticello Fire and Rescue personnel were able to put out the fire with hand-held extinguishers.

The high school and Washington schools are on the same campus at Monticello.

The fire apparently started in the toilet paper dispenser of one of the bathroom stalls, burned the plastic enclosure and a light fixture, and spread soot throughout the room. Soot also spread to some of the duct work, and there was some water damage in the bathroom.

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