New issues raised in Lockport fire trial

LOCKPORT, N.Y. - The case involving a teenager who plead guilty to last year’s fatal industrial fire at High Tread International in Lockport was not wrapped up Tuesday, as more testimony was heard and some it got a bit heated.

A judge was expected to possibly issue a sentence in this case, but new information has caused it to go even further.

Defense attorney Ange DiMillo was able to raise new issues in this case, concerning a probation officer’s report, recommending that the teen defendant be placed with the Department of Social Services,

2 On Your Side has not identified the defendant because of he is only 14 years old.

Joseph Phillips, who was also 14 years old and was a friend of the defendant, died in the fire.

The teen on trial survived by fleeing the scene and according to his defense attorney, went to get help.

Inside the courtroom, at the judge’s request, a Niagara County probation officer took the stand, revealing her report on what she believes should happen to the boy who’s pleaded guilty to arson and burglary as an accomplice.

That probation officer was Marcella Carson, she testified that after interviewing the defendant, his parents and looking at evidence in the case, that she believes the boy should be placed with the Department of Social Services -- also saying that his parents and grandparents did not properly supervise him.

She also highlighted the defendant’s misbehavior in school, saying he has been written up for punching a kid in the face, bullying and spitting on a bus.

Under cross examination, DiMillo criticized Carson claiming that she and her report are biased against the boy.

DiMillo questioned: You’re adding your commentary to this report?

Carson responded: “I guess so”

DiMillo asked: “You’re blaming him for Joe’s death?”

Carson: “No. He should’ve done more, screamed or something”

Carson said she has no training in mental health or psychology as a probation officer.

Another revelation from the probation report, the defendant has received counseling in the past, and visited a local mental health clinic two months before the fire at High Tread International.

It appears that the teen defendant, is still struggling with mental health issues. His attorney says his client is currently getting treatment for depression. On one occasion, defense attorneys submitted a request in the interest of their client’s well-being, to get the public and the media thrown out of Tuesday’s proceedings, however, that was denied by the judge.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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