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Teen charged in High Tread fire appears in court

Posted at 5:29 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 18:21:38-05

The teenager charged in the High Tread fire in Lockport appeared in Niagara County Family Court Thursday with the hopes of dropping nine of the ten charges against him.

The judge dismissed the motion to drop the charges, including criminally negligent homicide and arson.

The fire, which burned for days in August, resulted in the death of another teen, Joe Phillips, who was trapped inside.

Angelo Dimillo, the teen's attorney, says it was Phillips who started the fires inside the plant, not his client. He also disputes the claim by the County Attorney's Office that the teenager waited a long time before telling any adult about the fire.

Dimillo also said the County Attorney's claim that the teenager knew Phillips was trapped inside when he ran for safety "disturbing" and "utterly false."

Dimillo and the County Attorney said in court they would like to come to an agreement on their own terms.  There are different options for this case, as it is in Family Court.  Judge Batt said two of the possible outcomes could be probation or residential placement.

If an agreement isn't made, the case will move forward to a fact-finding hearing, similar to a trial in a criminal case.

The teenager is expected to be in court again on January 10.