DENVER (REUTERS) – Two of three teenage boys will be tried as adults for charges of murder and arson in a Denver house fire that killed five Senegalese immigrants, including two young children, prosecutors said on Tuesday (Feb 2).
Kevin Bui and Gavin Seymour, both 16, are charged with five dozen counts of murder, arson, conspiracy, attempted murder and related offences stemming from the deadly blaze on Aug 5, 2020, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a written statement.
The third suspect, a 15-year-old boy whose name has been kept under seal because he is a minor, is charged in a juvenile court with similar charges.
Prosecutors will seek to move his case to adult court, Ms McCann said.
Flames roared through the house in north-east Denver in the early morning hours, killing 29-year-old Djibril Diol, his wife Adja Diol, 23, and the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Khadija.
Also killed were Ms Hassan Diol, 25, the husband’s sister, and her infant daughter, Hawa Beye.
Three other family members escaped the flames by leaping out a second-storey window.
The deaths stunned Denver’s ethnic Senegalese community, who feared the family may have been targeted because they are Muslim immigrants from the West African country.
Police have not said what may have motivated the crime and the arrest warrant affidavits remain under seal.
Denver police chief Paul Pazen said at the time of the arrests that investigators did not uncover any evidence of a “bias-motivated crime”.
Federal agents carrying out a search warrant at a home in neighbouring Jefferson County during the investigation arrested a woman they said was a relative of Kevin Bui after finding drugs and a handgun, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Tanya Bui is charged in a separate case in federal court with marijuana possession with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm for the purpose of drug trafficking, prosecutors said.
Tanya Bui has not been charged in the fire or deaths.
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