DENVER (AP) — One of three teens charged with starting a house fire in suburban Denver that killed five people — apparently out of revenge for a stolen cellphone that was mistakenly traced to the residence — pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree murder.
Gavin Seymour, 19, pleaded guilty for his role in the Aug. 5, 2020, fire that killed five members of a Senegalese family. Under a plea agreement, he faces between 16 and 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 15. The plea deal calls for another 60 other charges to be dismissed, The Denver Post reported.
Seymour and two other teenagers — Kevin Bui and Dillon Siebert — were charged with setting the fire in the middle of the night, killing Djibril and Adja Diol and their 2-year-old daughter, Khadija, along with Hassan Diol and her 6-month-old daughter, Hawa Baye. Three other people escaped by jumping from the second floor of the home.
Siebert, who was 14 at the time of the fire, was 17 last February when he was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention and seven years in a state prison program for young inmates. Seymour and Bui, the alleged ringleader, were both 16 at the time of the fire.
The investigation of the fire dragged on for months without any leads. Fears that the fire had been a hate crime led many Senegalese immigrants to install security cameras at their homes in case they could also be targeted.
The boys were identified as suspects after police obtained a search warrant asking Google for which accounts had searched the home’s address within 15 days of the fire.
Bui told investigators he had been robbed the month before the fire while trying to buy a gun and had traced his iPhone to the home using an app, court records said. He admitted to setting the fire, only to find out the next day through news coverage that the victims were not the people who robbed him, according to police.
Attorneys for Seymour and Bui challenged the search warrant, but the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the search for this case.
Bui's arraignment is set for Feb. 1, according to court records.