Law Says Melrose Church Fire Suspect Can’t Be Tried as an Adult
ST. CLOUD -- The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says a juvenile has admitted to starting the 2016 fire that destroyed a historic church in Melrose.
Because the child was 13-years-old at the time of the crime, their identity won't be released and their criminal case file remains private. It also means the child will be prosecuted in juvenile court. State law requires a child to be at least 14-years-old at the time of the offense and the crime must be a felony for a judge to consider whether to try them in adult court.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Mike Lieberg says the law states they can't talk publicly about specific cases involving juveniles.
WJON News asked Lieberg to speak generally about what the law is regarding restitution in juvenile cases...
In a criminal matter, a juvenile delinquency matter, it's the child that would be ordered to pay any restitution. And much like any other restitution case, part of what the court would have to determine is what that child's ability to pay, is.
And, Lieberg says the criminal court cannot hold parents or guardians responsible for damages...
No. The parents cannot be ordered as a condition of the child's disposition in juvenile court to pay that restitution.
The fire caused millions of dollars in damages and the church remains closed.