LEWISTON – The parents of the 12-year-old boy who is charged with setting fire to the apartment building where they lived were nearly $6,700 behind in rent and about to be evicted, according to court records.

Jessica Reilly, whose son Brody Covey is accused of starting the fire on April 29, had been served papers April 26 on behalf of her boyfriend, Charles Epps, seeking to evict them from 109 Blake St., Apartment 1, said David Sherman Jr., the Portland lawyer who filed the complaint.

The boy’s aunt, Ami Reilly of Lewiston, said Monday in Lewiston District Court that Covey is “not a bad kid” and would not start a fire without a reason. She said she believes “he was put up to it.”

Covey and another 12-year-old boy, who is accused of starting a fire Friday night that destroyed four more apartment buildings in crowded downtown Lewiston, made their first court appearances during a juvenile session behind closed doors. The two cases are not believed to be related.

Covey is charged with three felony counts of arson. The other boy, who has not been publicly identified, is charged with four counts of arson.

The Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office said last week that Monday’s session would be held in open court as required by state law because of the seriousness of the charges.

But after opening the court briefly to the public Monday, Judge John Beliveau said the District Attorney’s Office had not yet filed a criminal petition against either boy.

“Under our code, it’s not open to the public until a formal petition is filed,” Beliveau said.

The judge said the District Attorney’s Office had filed petitions only for the boys to be detained. He scheduled both boys to return to court next Monday to be arraigned in a hearing that will be open to the public.

Covey was identified last week by the Lewiston District Court’s criminal clerk’s office. Authorities have not named the second boy, after apparently releasing Covey’s name in error.

Family members of the second boy also appeared in court Monday. They declined to comment, speaking through a Somali translator assigned to them by the court.

Ami Reilly said her nephew was in her custody for a while, until two years ago, and she raised him alongside her own children before he returned to the custody of his mother and his mother’s boyfriend.

“He’s a really good kid. He was really quiet,” Ami Reilly said. “He never had any problem.”

Ami Reilly said that, besides Brody, her sister has a son from a previous relationship and two daughters with Epps, a 14-month-old and a 1-month-old. She said the father of the boys lives in Oklahoma.

Jessica Reilly declined to speak about the case against her son.

Epps addressed the media outside the courthouse, saying, “We’re all grown men, and I think we’ve all heard what they say about assuming.”

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com