STERLING – The half brothers accused of setting a July fire that destroyed a block of downtown Prophetstown each have been charged with 13 additional counts of criminal damage to property.
They now face charges of arson, residential arson, and 14 counts of criminal damage to property, all felonies.
Whiteside County Assistant State's Attorney Carol Linkowski received additional reports from the state fire marshal last week that support the added charges: Each count represents a different victim, she said Tuesday morning at a pretrial hearing at the Sterling courthouse.
Mark Holldorf is the attorney for the 16-year-old; Colleen Buckwalter represents the 12-year-old.
Their next pretrial conference is Sept. 10. Associate Judge William S. McNeal said he had hoped for a resolution by Tuesday's hearing so that the boys, who live out of state, could get back to school.
For now, though, they will remain under 24-hour supervision in Prophetstown: the 16-year-old at his grandfather's house, and the 12-year-old at his father's house.
If found guilty, the older boy could be held in a juvenile correctional center until he's 21. Because he is younger than 13, the other boy cannot be committed to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, but could be placed on probation and spend up to 30 days in a juvenile detention center.
Police say the fire was sparked July 15 after the two boys, in town for the summer visiting their father, set fire to paper and cardboard in a recycling bin behind Cindy Jean's restaurant around 2:30 a.m. The blaze then spread to the buildings.
Sauk Valley Media is not identifying the boys because they are charged as juveniles.