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.