D.A. Broder: Tried to get girl, 14, tried as adult, but law won’t allow that for juvenile arsonist


There have been numerous comments and questions from the community wondering why the 14-year-old Peachtree City girl charged with arson in the Aug. 24 Walmart fire had her case presented in juvenile court rather than facing charges as an adult in superior court. District Attorney Marie Broder had the answer to the question.

The 14-year-old girl responsible for setting the Aug. 24 fire that caused significant damage to the Walmart superstore on Peachtree City’s west side appeared in juvenile court on Oct. 21 on charges of 1st degree arson, where she admitted starting the fire. News reports have put the damage, lost business and replacement costs to get the Walmart ready for reopening sometime in the new year at more than $40 million. An earlier story describes the fire, the investigation and the arrest of the lone suspect.

Broder previously said the teen in Fayette County Juvenile Court entered an admission pertaining to the crime.

Because it was her first offense, state law requires that the sentence she received is confidential and no information can be released, Broder said.

Commenting on why the case went to Fayette County Juvenile Court rather than Fayette County Superior Court, Broder said it was what the law required. Arson is not one of the offenses covered by the law that provides for trial as an adult.

Georgia law states that youth ages 13-17 can be charged as an adult for crimes including murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and armed robbery. Broder added that aggravated assault against a police officer has been added in the law.

When it came to the arson charge, Broder said she and her team “explored every single avenue” to try to have the case held in Superior Court, but to no avail.

In this case, Broder could only do what the law allows.


  1. Guess someone has to die in an arson case to be able to hold these juvenile delinquents to account!
    Until we start holding these juvenile offenders accountable for their lawless actions instead of releasing them back to their parents for their felonious actions we will continue to see a rise in youth crime!

  2. Interesting that there is no compassion comments extended to those that lost their livelihood due to the actions of this girl. I doubt they are made whole by insurance as we roll into the Holiday seasons. I feel for them.

  3. I find it a little disgusting that Broder wanted her tried as an adult. The law is the law. This was indeed a crime but putting a 14yr old in prison for 1-20 years is sick in my mind.

    Kids lighting things on fire isn’t exactly a malicious act – it’s a stupid one.

    • Are you serious??? Lighting paper goods on fire in a crowded store is certainly a malicious act. To refer to it as a mere stupid act, one would have to be gullible, or a close relative. You’re also saying that any jail time over one year is a crime, as well; the evidence stacks up that you either a relative or incredibly liberal, neither of whom seems to be objective as to the needs and abilities needed to live, peaceably, in polite society. There is a justice system for those that can’t live within the legal framework outline this legal framework, and this girl showed that she cannot do that, and is not just a mere stupid child playing with matches in the corner.

          • The rebuild estimate is around $15m. Walmart always has and will get theirs. The civil aspect of this will give Walmart its path for recompensation though their insurance carrier will have the lead. Again, lighting a fire at 14 doesn’t mean she realized the scope of what could possibly happen. I’m certainly not defending her action, just the common sense application of context.

        • I agree mostly with secret squirrel.
          If it was not premeditated, it was a stupid destructive act of a 14-year-old.
          However, if it was broadcast on social media, proven to be planned or arranged then I think a harsher penalty with some time served and rehabilitation.

        • Well, then, by your logic, the prisons would only contain murders and everyone else would just get a pass because they would only be one of millions and nothing in their crimes would be any different, nor a cause for prosecution. Thank goodness you’re not in the DA’s office.

          • Hi Clearview
            You misunderstand me or have not read my many post that are generally considered extreme and call for the max punishment, usually with sone disrespect for the criminal’s physical appearance thrown in.
            I just think that in nonviolent cases the younger ones need to be punished, counseled and serve time doing civic duty…maybe for several years with an opportunity make some reparation.