Felony charges expected for pair

Two 16-year-old cousins being held for playing what they called a prank on an Arlington High School student were ordered held on $2,500 cash bail Monday when they made a preliminary appearance in Snohomish County Juvenile Court.

Prosecutors said they intend to file felony malicious harassment charges against them by Wednesday for setting fire to a cross made from a broken pallet and duct tape.

They doused it with gasoline, placed it in the yard of a black minister and set it ablaze, prosecutors said.

It’s a crime that carries a sentencing range of up to 30 days in a juvenile detention center, deputy prosecutor David Kurtz said. He told Judge Gerald Knight on Monday that the crime was more than a prank.

"It’s not like (toilet-papering) a house. This was deliberately chosen as a symbol of hate," Kurtz told the judge. He said it was a "crime against the fabric of our community."

The boys told police they were bored early Wednesday morning and decided to play a prank on the 17-year-old son of Pastor Jason Martin, who heads the Jesus is Lord Life Tabernacle in Marysville.

The incident outraged the community and set off a wellspring of support for the Martin family.

One of the cousins told police he had had a "few minor run-ins" with Martin’s teenage son. Both of the arrested boys admitted driving on the Martin’s lawn the previous week, leaving deep tire ruts.

Neither of the teens now attends the high school. One was suspended for refusing to remove racial slogans from a hat.

One said the cross burning "was just a spur-of-the-moment" event, according to court documents. "It was just a prank. We didn’t do it because we hated this kid," one told officers.

Officers asked them if they are prejudiced against minorities.

"I’m fine with a lot of them," one responded. "I wouldn’t say we’re racist, just prejudice (sic). I hang out with colored people all the time," documents said.

They complained about some minority students getting special treatment at school.

The pair walked into the Arlington Police Station on Saturday after word got out that officers were looking for them. One boy’s older sister accompanied them.

Before they were arrested and taken to the Denney Juvenile Justice Center, the teens said "they would appreciate the opportunity to apologize to the Martin family in person," court documents said.

One of the defendants is accused of damaging the hood of a high school teacher’s car in December, and was charged with malicious mischief.

Defense attorneys Jay Carey and Kristin Timm asked Judge Knight to free the teens to home detention. Knight denied their request. "This certainly isn’t a prank," Knight said. "It’s serious."

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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