May 13, 2013

Four face arraignment in Lewiston fires

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

LEWISTON — Four people, including two 12-year-olds, are expected to be arraigned Monday on arson charges stemming from three separate fires that tore through downtown Lewiston in the last two weeks.

All the suspects are due in Lewiston District Court at 1 p.m., when prosecutors are expected to lay out new details of the suspected arsons.

The court appearances come after Lewiston Police on Friday announced the arrest of Bryan Wood, 23, of 131 Bartlett St., and Brian Morin, 29, a transient, who are accused of setting the latest fire that destroyed two vacant apartment buildings on Bartlett Street May 6.

The other two suspects are preteen boys, although police have said the cases are separate. Accused in the first fire, which destroyed three apartment buildings near Blake and Pine Street April 29, is Brody Covey, who lived at the Blake Street building. His family was facing eviction at the time of the blaze, although the building had already been condemned by city code enforcement officers in March.

Accused in the second blaze is Abdi Ibrahim, who allegedly started the May 3 fire that destroyed four apartment buildings and a garage between Pierce and Bartlett Streets.

Some 200 residents were displaced in the blazes. Local aid agencies and the city of Lewiston, with help from the state and non-profit groups, have leapt in to help provide a safety net for the victims.

A relative of Covey, who spoke May 6 after the youth appeared before a juvenile judge in a closed-door session, said the boy was "put up to it."

"Brody's really not a bad kid," said Ami Reilly, Covey's aunt.

Although they have been charged as juveniles, Covey and Ibrahim are expected to appear in open court because of the seriousness of the charges.

Morin and Wood, who lived a few doors away from the site of the fire they are accused of setting, are being held in Androscoggin County Jail.

Police said the third fire was more difficult to investigate than the first two because neither Morin nor  Wood appeared to have connections to the buildings.

In an interview with the Press Herald last Monday after the fire, Morin said he was arrested about 3 a.m., around the time the fire started, and was questioned for several hours by police before being released.

click image to enlarge

In this May 6 photo, firefighters battle the third major Lewiston fire in in a week, this one at 114-118 Bartlett Street. The four people accused of setting the three fires, which displaced about 200 residents, are due in Lewiston District Court today.

(AP Photo/The Lewiston Sun-Journal, Russ Dillingham)

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"(The police) asked why I did it, and what I used to set it," Morin said at the time. "I'm not going to admit to something I didn't do."

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