West Richland teen admits illegal fireworks caused fire

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldOctober 25, 2012 

An 18-year-old man who was illegally setting off fireworks when he started a brush fire in West Richland days before the Fourth of July won't serve any jail time because this was his first criminal offense.

Kyle William Low pleaded guilty Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court to second-degree reckless burning, a gross misdemeanor.

"I set fireworks, which caused a fire, destroying irrigation equipment and a fence," Low wrote in his plea statement. "My actions were reckless. I knew a fire could start."

He was given 364 days in jail with all of the time suspended. The deferred sentence means if he doesn't commit any more crimes or violate the conditions of his judgment, the matter will be dismissed at a hearing in one year.

The brush fire was started July 2 at 58th Avenue and Grant Street. Before fire crews were able to put out the blaze, the fire damaged Benton REA power poles and boxes, along with some older vehicles and trailers on the property, court documents stated.

A large shed also sustained some heat damage, while another property owner reported the pump house for her well was damaged by the flames, documents stated.

West Richland officers learned that Low had been with another teen, Casey Martin, lighting fireworks on Grant Street.

Martin apparently was trying to light a mortar but didn't follow the directions and decided not to use the tube to launch the mortar into the air.

Low reportedly tried to block the wind as Martin made several attempts to light it. Low then lit the mortar on the ground, and it exploded, sending sparks flying into the brush on both sides of the road, court documents stated.

Multiple fires were started by the sparks, which Low and Martin were not able to extinguish, documents stated.

Martin called 911 to report the fires before the teens sped away from the area with three friends who had been watching. The vehicle's license plate number was taken down by a homeowner in the area, and police were able to track the vehicle back to Low.

Deputy Prosecutor Julie Long stated in court documents that she agreed to reduce the charge from first-degree reckless burning because Low has no prior criminal history and had turned 18 only a few months before the fire.

Martin was under 18, and his criminal matter was referred to the juvenile diversion program, so Long said in order to treat the two defendants similarly, she thought it was appropriate to drop Low's charge from a felony crime and allow him to have a deferred sentence.

"The conditions set forth ... should hold (Low) accountable for his actions in this matter while making the victims whole," Long wrote.

Low agreed to pay the full restitution of $2,283.72 up front. That includes $941 to Benton Fire District 4 in West Richland and $137.55 to Benton REA in Prosser.

Man pleads innocent to stealing iPad while working as mover

A Kennewick man pleaded innocent to allegations he stole an iPad from a home while working as part of a moving crew.

Johnathon Jared King, 27, faces trial Nov. 26 on charges of first-degree trafficking in stolen property and third-degree theft.

According to court documents, King was working as a mover in the victim's Kennewick home when the Apple tablet went missing. The homeowner and his daughter confronted King, but he denied stealing it, documents stated.

However, King placed an ad on Craigslist later that same day and quickly found a buyer for the iPad, court documents stated. The buyer requested that they meet in a retail store and reportedly took a picture of King as they completed the transaction.

Store security video also allegedly shows King exchanging an iPad for money.

The buyer contacted police after learning the device was stolen and handed it over to officers for their investigation.

The victim and his daughter identified King as the man who was in their home that day, and the buyer confirmed King sold the iPad, documents stated.

King's former employer also reportedly told police that he was a member of the moving crew in the home Sept. 25. The iPad is valued at $550.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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