Lewiston, ME: Somali teen released to ‘residential facility’ over District Attorney objections

Back in April and May there were several arson fires in Lewiston, ME.   A Somali boy is charged in one of those fires (see our earlier posts, here and here), now that boy is being released from a juvenile detention facility, but the District Attorney, earlier this week objected to the judge’s decision citing the boys prior criminal record.

One of Lewiston’s several arson fires that occurred within a week. Photo Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Here is the latest from earlier this week from the Lewiston Sun Journal (Hat tip: Michael):

LEWISTON — A judge on Wednesday ordered the release of a 13-year-old boy charged with four counts of arson in a May 3 fire that burned four downtown apartment buildings and left nearly 100 people homeless.

Abdi Ibrahim of Lewiston was in 8th District Court for a juvenile detention hearing. Because he is charged with felonies, his court proceedings are held in public.

His attorney, Richard Charest, said a residential facility that offers programs that address the teen’s problems is the least restrictive setting for him, something required by the state’s juvenile code.

Judge Rick Lawrence agreed, provided a safety plan is in place that will protect Ibrahim as well as the community.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Portas opposed the placement, telling Lawrence that Ibrahim posed a risk to the community if released from a lockdown facility such as Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, where the teen has been held since he was charged.

Abdi was already in trouble with the law at 9-years old***

Portas cited Ibrahim’s criminal record, which dates back to when he was 9 years old. Charges include theft, robbery, burglary and assault. In addition to the arson fires, he has been charged with criminal mischief and criminal threatening, Portas said.

She said the seriousness of the new charges, coupled with the manner in which fire investigators believe the fires were set — using gasoline on materials in a Pierce Street garage and igniting them with a lighter — was of particular concern to prosecutors.

A residential setting “cannot ensure that (Ibrahim) will not set another fire,” she told the judge.

Portas referenced a recent psychological evaluation that concluded Ibrahim suffered from poor impulse control, displayed a “significant amount of immaturity” and “under appreciates” the effect of his actions on others by showing a lack of remorse.

Photo:  The photo is from one of the Lewiston fires, but the article has this informative item.  Abdi’s parents both live in Lewiston, but not together.  It makes me wonder if Dad has more than one wife, a common practice in Somalia that has been brought to America.

Ibrahim lives with his mother, Marian Ibrahim, according to court papers. His father, Yussef Abdi, lives at a separate address in Lewiston.

An American kid is charged in another of the fires.

***It just occurred to me—I wonder if Abdi was among the Somali boys back in 2009 who were attacking people (for the “thrill”) on the streets of multicultural Lewiston, here.

For new readers, our complete Lewiston archive is here. Be sure to see this 2009 post about how Somalis came to be in Lewiston in the first place, it is still one of our most widely read posts.

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