DENVER — Two of the three teenagers charged with murder for allegedly setting a Denver home on fire and killing a family of five inside will be tried as adults, a judge ruled this week, noting the trauma inflicted on the community by the 2020 fire “defies comprehension.”
The Aug. 5, 2020, fire killed former Silverthorne resident Djibril Diol. Diol graduated from Colorado Mountain College in Summit County in 2015 with an associate of science degree in physics. He immigrated to the U.S. from the West African country of Senegal in 2012.
Also killed in the fire were Diol’s wife, Adja; their 22-month-old daughter, Khadija; relative Hassan Diol; and her infant daughter, Hawa Baye, according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
The cases against Kevin Bui and Gavin Seymour, both 17, will continue in adult court despite efforts by their attorneys to argue the cases should instead be tried in juvenile court. The case against the third suspect, who was 15 at the time of the crime and has not been publicly identified, remains in juvenile court.
Denver District Court Judge Martin Egelhoff ruled Tuesday, Jan. 25, that Bui’s and Seymour’s actions were so egregious that they should be tried in adult court and face more severe punishment, despite the teens’ ages, lack of prior criminal record and good behavior in juvenile detention since their arrests.
“In a case such as this, where the result of the defendant’s conduct is the loss of not one but five human lives, the total destruction of the home of two families, and the devastation of multiple families and communities, both locally and abroad, the community has a legitimate and significant interest in the most severe and consequential punishment commensurate with the immeasurable harm occasioned by the defendants’ conduct,” Egelhoff wrote. “Indeed, in nearly 23 years as a judicial officer, this court has not witnessed a case of such gravity, consequence and loss as that presented herein.”
The three teens set the Green Valley Ranch home on fire because Bui erroneously thought a person who stole his phone lived there and he wanted revenge, law enforcement officers said during a November court hearing. The teens bought masks to wear to hide their faces and splashed gasoline inside of the home before lighting it on fire, law enforcement officials testified.
Read more at DenverPost.com.