Porterville Library fire suspects make second court appearance

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A court hearing was held at the juvenile justice center Wednesday for the two 13-year-old boys accused of starting the Porterville Library Fire.

A judge allowed cameras inside the courtroom. Action News is not allowed to show you the teens' faces or say their names.

Both are still in custody and have been charged with murder and arson-related crimes

Porterville Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones lost their lives in the inferno.

"The murder charges here are the most severe charges that could have been filed," Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi said. "It's going to be difficult on the DA's behalf to prove these charges that these defendant's had in their mind that they intended to kill somebody."

Rachelle Hensley gets angry when she thinks about the teens.

We spoke with her outside of the library on Wednesday afternoon, as it was being demolished (demolition is expected to take about a week).

"Those kids at that age, they know right from wrong," Hensley said. "They knew what they were doing was wrong...everything's a video game, so they don't think about the real life aspect of it all."

During the court hearing, attorneys on both sides of the aisle said still needed to receive and review important information about the case, including the report on the fire investigation.

Capozzi says once the discovery process is complete and witnesses are lined up, a trial date will be set.

But unlike adult cases, a jury won't decide the boys' fate. That will be left up to the judge.

Capozzi explains that if convicted, they can only be 'wards of the court' until the age of 21, or in some cases, 25.

"They're not out for punishment," Capozzi said. "They're out to see whether or not they can be rehabilitated and brought back into society in (their) 20's."

There was also a discussion at Wednesday's hearing about how the two defense attorneys are expected to start consulting with their own investigators and experts.

The teen suspects will be back in court on April 27.
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