MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A teen arsonist is in state custody after a Juvenile Court Judge ordered her in-patient treatment during a sentencing hearing. The judge fears the teen is a threat to herself and others.
The 15-year-old was arrested in early May. She admitted to setting fire to the Homewood Suites hotel in Germantown. Abc24.com will not release the teen's name because she is a minor.
Defense lawyer James Gulley was disappointed with the court's decision to take his client from the care of her grandparents and place her in the custody of the Department of Child Services. "We were asking the court to let her return to her grandparent's custody and to seek outpatient treatment and go on supervised probation." Gulley says, "The court found she could get better treatment and more appropriate treatment by being placed in DCS custody."
In early May, the teen was arrested by Germantown police for setting the fire. She admitted to starting it by burning her clothes in a closet. The teen was staying in the hotel with her grandparents because four days earlier, a fire tore through the family's Cordova home. The home was once owned by music legend Isaac Hayes. In March, another fire damaged a home where the teen's grandparents once lived.
She has only been connected to the hotel fire, but the others were brought up in court during her sentencing. Her lawyer made it clear there was no allegation that she was involved in the other fires. "It's relevant to everything that is going on in the case," Gulley says, "I just want to make sure what is said is accurate."
A psychologist told the judge the teen suffers from psychosomatic seizure disorder and requires a secure facility for her own well-being and the safety of others. Her grandparents were forced to hand over custody. "They would have liked for her to be able to come home." Gulley says, "They respect the court's decision."
The teen will be back in Juvenile Court in 60 days for a status hearing.