The case of a 17-year-old boy accused of setting fire to a bathroom at Thunder Basin High School won’t be sent to juvenile court.
Derek Paul will continue to face arson charges in District Court after a new court-appointed attorney asked that a request to move it to juvenile court not be considered.
Paul’s previous attorney had asked that a transfer hearing be set, at which attorneys could argue whether Paul should be treated as a juvenile. Cases in juvenile court are handled differently than in District Court, including that the cases remain confidential.
But Brandon T. Booth, chief trial counsel for the Wyoming State Public Defenders Office, requested Tuesday that the court vacate the transfer hearing request.
“Given the factors involved and the circumstances surrounding this matter, counsel believes a transfer hearing on this matter to be unnecessary,” Booth wrote in court documents.
Among the reasons is that Paul is scheduled to turn 18 in May which, along with other factors, would weigh against his transfer to the juvenile system, he said.
District Judge Thomas W. Rumpke has vacated the hearing, which had been scheduled for next week.
Paul will be in court next Feb. 11 for a pre-trial conference.
He is accused of starting a fire in the handicap stall of a second-floor bathroom at TBHS on the afternoon of Sept. 30.
School staff said Paul had thrown a temper tantrum earlier that day when he was sent to lunch detention for his failing grades, Gillette Police Detective Julianne Witham said during his preliminary hearing.
The damage was contained to the bathroom, which sustained heavy smoke damage. Both toilet paper rolls and the plastic toilet paper container in a handicap stall were completely burned. About 300 to 400 students, teachers and other staff were in the building at the time and had to evacuate.
His attorney in October characterized Paul’s actions as a “poorly planned prank.”
School officials estimated the repairs to the bathroom would cost up to $50,000.
First-degree arson carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.