No Deal in Case of Teen Accused in Cocos Fire - NBC 7 San Diego

No Deal in Case of Teen Accused in Cocos Fire

She will face trial March 10 on four felony charges.

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    The parents of the San Marcos teen girl accused of starting the wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes in San Diego County last year turned down a deal offered by prosecutors Thursday.

    The girl accused of starting the Cocos Fire, which destroyed nearly 40 homes amid a spate of wildfires in May 2014, was 13 when she was first arrested and charged.

    She faces four felony charges, including two counts of arson of an inhabited structure or property in which multiple structures were burned and two counts of arson of a structure or forest land in a reckless manner.

    She also faces a misdemeanor of unlawfully allowing a fire to escape from one’s control. 

    When she appeared in juvenile court Thursday for a pre-trial hearing, the San Diego County District Attorney's office offered her what is essentially a plea bargain.

    The teenager would admit responsibility for one count plus allegations.

    The DA's office tells NBC 7 the teenager's parents and attorney did not accept the offer. As a result, the trial will begin March 10 and will take place downtown.

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    In juvenile cases, the focus is on rehabilitation over imprisonment.

    "The goal of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate," said Deputy District Attorney Shawnaysa Ochoa. "It doesn't matter when, if there's a trial or the person pleads before the trial, the goal is always the same."

    In the meantime, the teenager is undergoing counseling and living at home with her parents.

    The fire that sparked near Village Drive and Twin Oaks Road in May 2014 forced the evacuation of Cal State San Marcos and hundreds of other homes.

    The Cocos Fire scorched 1,995 acres and cost the City of San Marcos approximately $10.4 million in damage and firefighting expenses.

    Officials have set up an information line for victims, where they can call for basic info on the case and leave messages with questions. That number is 858-694-4241.

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