Teens Could Get Life in Tenn. Wildfire

'Everything is on the table,' prosecutors say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2016 2:59 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2016 6:45 AM CST
Teens Could Get Life in Tenn. Wildfires
The stone walls are all that remains of the Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, Tenn.   (Amy Smotherman Burgess/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

Everything, including murder charges that could bring a sentence of life in prison, is "on the table" for two teenagers accused of starting a devastating wildfire in Tennessee, prosecutors warn. The pair, whose names and ages have not been publicly released, were charged with aggravated arson earlier this month and are in juvenile detention. Authorities say a firestorm that began with a blaze the teens allegedly started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Nov. 23 ended up killing 14 people, injuring another 175, destroying more than 2,000 homes and other structures, and scorching around 20,000 acres of the park. It's not clear whether prosecutors plan to try the teens as adults.

CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos says the teens could be tried for first-degree murder even if they weren't planning to kill anybody, because Tennessee law allows the charges "killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate" offenses including arson. Sources tell the Knoxville News Sentinel that the boys are 17 and 15 years old, making it possible that both could be tried as adults. The sources say the boys were tossing lit matches onto the ground around the Chimney Tops Trail, and they were tracked down with the help of a photo another hiker took of the boys walking away from the trail with smoke in the background. (More wildfires stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.