Teenager found guilty in fire that destroyed church

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 4:28 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A guilty verdict was handed down at the Mesa County Justice Center on Wednesday morning for the teenager who was suspected of starting the fire that destroyed a church in Fruita.

The now 17-year-old was found guilty of arson, criminal mischief, and burglary in her role in the fire at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Fruita.

The church building was set in a blaze in April 2021, and the investigator determined it to be arson. In June 2021, the Fruita Police Department announced they had made an arrest in the case, and the case eventually went to trial, and on Wednesday, the judge read the verdict that the teen was found guilty.

Prosecutors say they are happy with the results of the trial.

“We are very pleased overall as a team. We are incredibly grateful to law enforcement and all of their efforts,” said Deputy Attorney Kali Roundy-Lockwood. “It was a very long case. It was very difficult, and a lot of people worked very hard to ensure this outcome for the community, and we are overall very pleased with the verdict.”

The defense maintains the 17-year-old is innocent and says she was accompanied by a now 13-year-old who they say was ultimately responsible for the fire.

The teenager is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2022.

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