LAKEWOOD, Colo. (TCD) — A judge sentenced a 15-year-old boy this week for starting a fire that killed a mother and her 10-year-old daughter last year.
According to an Oct. 3 news release from the Colorado First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the teen will spend seven years in the Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services with 113 days of time served.
The 15-year-old pleaded guilty on July 15 to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated juvenile offender, first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder, and first-degree arson.
On Oct. 31, 2022, at approximately 4:15 a.m., first responders were dispatched to a structure fire at the 32-unit Tiffany Square apartment building. A total of 14 units suffered damage from the fire, and all the residents were forced to relocate.
While investigating, Lakewood Police Department officers found 31-year-old Kathleen Payton and her young daughter, Jazmine Payton-Aguayo, dead inside one of the units. Ten people suffered injuries from the fire, three of whom were transported to the hospital.
Investigators believe two suspects, who were 14 and 12 years old at the time, intentionally set the fire. According to the Denver Gazette, the two boys were reportedly inside one of the units on the night of Oct. 30, then got kicked out. Witnesses saw the boys flee the building, and then the 14-year-old came back with what they believed to be a Molotov cocktail or “some other incendiary.”
Payton and Payton-Aguayo died from smoke inhalation.
The 12-year-old boy reportedly told his grandmother he caused the apartment building fire. The two suspects also had criminal pasts. The Denver Gazette reports the 14-year-old was a runaway and joined a local Bloods gang, while the younger one was charged in the past with felony menacing.
Lakewood Police arrested the two suspects Nov. 6, 2022.
The District Attorney’s Office said the victims and their families were present during the sentencing, and many of them wore Jazmine Payton-Aguayo’s favorite colors, pink and purple. The co-defendant remains in custody and is scheduled for a status hearing Oct. 16.
Officials did not disclose the suspects’ names due to their ages.