Charged With Burning Down Principal's House, Two of Four Payette Teens Admit to Arson 

click to enlarge BRIAN TURNER, CC BY 2.0
An Idaho teenager faces a jail sentence of up to eight years after admitting to his role in a fire that destroyed the home of his high-school principal.

The Ontario, Ore., Argus Observer reports the 16-year-old is one of four juvenile defendants in the case and has signed an agreement under which he pleaded guilty to second-degree arson in a Payette County courtroom.

The Feb. 22 arson of the home of Mark Heleker, then-principal of Payette High School, led to his decision to resign as after serving nine years at the school. Two of the four students charged in the arson had recently been suspended after a school investigation into prescription drug abuse. Police said the arson was an act of revenge.

The sentencing agreement for the 16-year-old suspect recommends as many as eight years behind bars with two years fixed in the corrections system, and restitution of approximately $31,000 to Meleker. A second suspect also signed a plea agreement Oct. 20, admitting to second-degree arson. A third suspect is scheduled for a jury trial, beginning Nov. 7, and a fourth suspect has a court hearing, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17.

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