Judge orders evaluation of girl accused in Cocos Fire - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - AM 760 KFMB

Judge orders evaluation of girl accused in Cocos Fire

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Arraignment was postponed Wednesday for a 13-year-old girl accused of setting the Cocos Fire in May.

Wednesday's highly anticipated juvenile court case took less than five minutes. In that time, a judge allowed only two reporters inside the courtroom and kept everything very private.

CBS News 8 learned that the minor accused of sparking the Cocos fire is a young teenage girl. Just minutes after her first juvenile court appearance, we captured exclusive video of a minor leaving the courthouse in San Diego with her family and attorney.

The unidentified girl is accused of setting the Cocos fire on May 14 which torched 2,000 acres in San Marcos and destroyed 40 structures, including many homes. Cal State San Marcos other schools and businesses were also evacuated.

The Cocos Fire raged for eight days and involved 500 firefighters at its height. Officials say it was one of a dozen fires totaling nearly $30 million in damages to private property and cost $28 million to fight. But what role did this minor play?

Sources say she's 13 years old and is considered one of San Diego's top competitors on a junior cycling team. Her next door neighbor claims she was adopted and lives with foster parents.

In court Wednesday, a judge postponed her arraignment until an evaluation is completed to see if she is mentally competent and can distinguish right from wrong.

"It can be when the minor is under the age of 14 and or if there are mental, comprehension or educational issues," Deputy District Attorney Shawnalyse Ochoa said.

Her therapy sessions were continued and she has a court-ordered curfew in place, not allowed to go outside from 6 pm to 6 am. Her lawyer says she doesn't go outside of the house without her parents.

But why is the accused minor allowed to walk out of court freely?

"The custody status is determined by the police department whether the minor is to be arrested or remain out of custody," Ochoa said.

A hearing is set for August 20, when the mental competency evaluation should be complete.

The girl, her family and attorney had nothing to say about what happened.



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