STERLING – The 16-year-old boy already was seated when the press entered the Whiteside County courtroom Tuesday morning. His hands were free of shackles, his feet bound.
His family lined the row behind him, joined by their pastor.
The teen, who, along with his 12-year-old half brother, is charged with setting the July 15 fire that burned down a block of Prophetstown’s main street, was in court to hear the charges against him.
After they were read, Assistant State’s Attorney Carol Linkowski said an agreement was reached that would allow the boy to be placed on electronic monitoring and released to his paternal grandfather, who must provide 24-hour supervision.
Under the terms of the agreement, the boy cannot leave the house for any reason other than an emergency or a court appearance, cannot be in possession of any matches or incendiary devices, and cannot have friends visit him.
“He’ll be in good hands,” said his grandfather, who lives with his wife in Prophetstown.
The boy’s parents could be held responsible for any court fees incurred, including the cost of the electronic monitoring and the $115 a day it costs to house a juvenile at the Mary Davis Home in Galesburg, where the 16-year-old has been held since the night of the fire.
His family members let out a collective sigh of relief when Associate Judge William S. McNeal accepted the agreement. His maternal grandmother struggled to hold back tears.
The boys are charged with residential arson, arson and criminal damage to property in excess of $100,000, all felonies; both face the possibility of incarceration until they are 21.
Their next court hearings are July 30. Attorney Mark Holldorf, of Sterling, is representing the 16-year-old.
The 12-year-old is at his father and stepmother’s home, also under 24-hour supervision but without an ankle bracelet.
Both boys are staying with their dad for the summer. The older boy lives in Wisconsin, the younger boy in New York state.
They are accused of setting fire in a recycling bin filled with paper and cardboard behind Cindy Jean’s Restaurant that ultimately destroyed eight buildings and damaged two others.
Sauk Valley Media is not identifying the boys because they are charged as juveniles.