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State turns over new evidence against youth charged in Goodfield fire

WGLT courts

The state turned over evidence to a Woodford County judge on Friday related to an alleged propensity of a 12-year-old boy to start fires, including an April 2019 blaze that killed five people.

The Goodfield boy, who was 9 at the time of the fatal fire, is charged with murder.

Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger submitted the materials as part of the state’s motion to include evidence of other bad acts or other crimes committed by the child. The minor has been living with his grandparents since the fire that killed Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34; Rose Alwood, 2; Damien Wall, 2 and Ariel Wall,1.

The youth and his mother Katrina Alwood survived the fire. He was found mentally unfit to stand trial last year.

In February, Feeney heard testimony from two of the boy’s relatives about three other fires he is suspected of setting before the April 2019 blaze that destroyed the family’s mobile home. The first fire dates back to 2016 when the boy was 5 years old.

Minger disclosed in February that authorities have evidence that the child set another fire in September.

Minger and attorneys representing the child’s interests agreed on Friday that the new materials would be turned over to the judge in lieu of testimony at the hearing.

Feeney set an Aug. 12 discharge hearing where he will rule on whether he will consider the new evidence in his decision in the case. A discharge hearing requires the state to prove the allegations against the child beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state is successful in proving its case, the judge would allow the child to continue with treatment to attain mental fitness for trial, a process that could take up to five years.

The consequences faced by the child at a trial mirror those he faced as a 9-year-old: probation and court-ordered counseling. The state could also dismiss the charges.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.