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Former Oak Harbor teen won’t be charged in fire that killed his mother

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By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer
COUPEVILLE -- No criminal charges will be filed against a former Oak Harbor boy who was suspected of starting a house fire in 2010 that claimed the life of his mother.
Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks announced this week that he has closed the case without filing charges against the 15-year-old boy.
"Based on the risk assessment, I have decided that prosecuting the youth would serve no public purpose and not be in the interest of justice," Banks wrote in press release.
A forensic evaluation concluded that the boy isn't an arsonist, nor is he prone to setting fires, Banks said. The doctor also found that there wasn't any evidence that the boy has any severe mental disorder associated with starting fires.
Detectives determined that the boy, then 14, had unknowingly set a fire while playing with matches in the living room of the family home, located on Scenic Heights Road in Oak Harbor.
Dawn Campbell, 32, alerted her son and his friend that the house was on fire. They escaped.
Campbell reportedly attempted to rescue the family dog but was overcome by smoke. She died in the fire.
The boy's father was on military deployment at the time.
The case was sent to prosecutors in January. The boy and his father relocated with the military to California. Lawyers worked to have the boy evaluated by two mental health professionals, including a forensic psychologist, Banks said.
Banks received the final report last week.
The boy faced a reckless burning charge. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to 30 days in detention and spent a year on probation.
The penalties "in the juvenile justice system would be negligible compared with to the anguish undoubtedly caused by the loss of his mother. Those legal penalties would do little to deter him, or to deter others from similar conduct," Banks wrote.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
Story tags » CoupevilleOak HarborProsecutionFire

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