PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

November 20, 2009

Zeno to be tried as an adult in school fire case

PORT ARTHUR — A 15-year-old will face trial as an adult in relation to a fire that destroyed a portion of the Memorial Ninth Grade Center earlier this year.

Da’Quan Oneal Zeno, of Port Arthur, was indicted for criminal mischief this week.

In order for a juvenile to be certified as an adult, the juvenile must undergo psychiatric and psychological evaluations

Randi King, a prosecutor in the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office juvenile division, and family law division chief, said commented on the process in a story that ran in May.

“They will look at the background of the juvenile, see if they have had trouble with the law before and probably check their school attendance records and behavior at school,” she said. “The psychiatric and psychological evaluation will check into their background to see if they are mature and streetwise.”

The severity of the offense will also be taken into consideration.

Zeno was 14 at the time of the incident. He is accused of igniting flammable items in a classroom with a cigarette lighter, according to the indictment.

The fire occurred Sunday, Jan. 4, at 1023 Lincoln Ave., the site of the former Lincoln High School campus and formerly the Memorial Ninth Grade Campus.

The blaze originated in a classroom on the north end of the school building. When firefighters arrived other areas of the building were on fire.

Ninth grade students were able to return to the campus after remediation was performed while the elementary students were dispersed across the campus to other elementary schools.

About 990 ninth grade and elementary students were displaced because of the fire.

mmeaux@panews.com

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