At a preliminary hearing yesterday, the arson case against a 17-year-old Thunder Basin High School (TBHS) student was bound over to District Court as Judge Wendy Bartlett ruled that there is probable cause to show the Sept. 30 fire at TBHS was maliciously started.
Gillette Police Department Detective Julianne Witham testified that the principal told her that in the hours before the fire broke out, the defendant had thrown a temper tantrum over having to attend lunch detention due to poor grades.
Defense council asked Judge Bartlett to consider lowering the original bond set at $25,000 to $10,000, noting his client has no prior criminal history, has been expelled from TBHS, and falls on the autism spectrum. The request was denied.
Should the defendant post bond, he would be fitted with a GPS monitoring device.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, fire investigators and Gillette Police detectives were able to determine the fire started in the handicap stall of the men’s bathroom of TBHS. Both toilet paper rolls and the plastic toilet paper container were completely burned, as noted in a previous article.
First-degree arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.