Fall Trials Possible for Idaho Academy
Arson Suspects, Police Say
BY MARK A. KELLNER, Adventist Review News Editor
our young adults suspected of arson and related crimes at Lake City Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, may face trial as early as the fall, a local police spokeswoman said June 26.
According to Sgt. Christie Wood of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, Jason Howry, 20, and Jackie Smith, 16, who each face felony arson charges as adults, as well as two suspects for whom conspiracy charges are pending, could come to trial within a “few months.” The police official made her comments in a telephone interview with Adventist Review.
Wood said Coeur d’Alene, a noted resort and tourist community in northern Idaho, is not usually plagued by arsons, a crime police investigate “one or two” times a year. The attack on the Adventist academy, which caused an estimated $30,000 in damage, was apparently the result of planning by the alleged arsonists (see original story).
“The four got together and wanted to burn something down. The one had a grudge against the school, and I guess that's how they decided to pick the target,” Wood said. Of the attack on the school, she added, “.It's not the norm. It's pretty sad that it happened here.”
City fire inspector Glen Lauper, in a separate interview, confirmed that arsons are rare in Coeur d’Alene, conceding, however, that half of all fires in town are caused by juveniles, either accidentally or otherwise.
The case is in the hands of the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office, Woods said. The other two suspects, a young adult male and female juvenile, haven’t been named yet, Wood said, because charges against them haven’t been filed. Unless prosecuted as an adult, the other juvenile’s name would not normally be released.
Wood also clarified the issue of Satanism allegedly being a factor in the arson. She said it was the named female suspect, Jackie Smith, who identified Howry as a “Satan worshipper,” something the 20-year-old male subsequently denied in a television interview.
Regardless of motive, however, Wood expects the justice system to run its course: “. Hopefully these kids will go through a court process and get some accountability and there will be some restitution demanded so they can pay for the [damage to the] school.”