Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A troubled 16-year-old honor student accused of trying to burn his parents alive in their Liberty Township home last month will be tried as an adult, a Butler County juvenile judge ruled Tuesday.
Mitchell Simon, a junior at Lakota West High School, first told sheriff’s detective that he was trying to kill himself but chickened out when he set the fire Oct. 24 in front of his parents’ separate bedroom doors after tying the doors shut, a detective testified Tuesday in juvenile court.
Simon later admitted to trying to kill his parents, Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Ron Owens said. Simon fled with a duffel bag full of clothes after setting the fires with gasoline. Simon said he then drove to Lawrenceburg to pick up a girlfriend and planned on “disappearing into the night.” He returned home instead, not knowing that his parents had escaped the blaze.
“He said he wanted a fresh start,” Owens said. “His intent was to inflict as much pain as humanly possible on those who caused him to feel the way he felt about himself.”
Simon told investigators that he was mad because his mother had taken his laptop computer from his room and blamed it on his father who wasn’t even home at the time, Owens said.
Simon is charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated arson. His parents Sharon and Perry Simon are supporting him despite the allegations. They hugged and comforted their sobbing son after Tuesday’s hearing before he was taken back to the juvenile detention center.
Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft didn’t have any choice but to send the case to a grand jury in adult court because of Simon’s age – he’ll be 17 in January – and the severity of the charges.
Simon’s attorney Brad Kraemer said his client’s actions were a cry for help and had no appreciation for what he was getting himself into.
“This case has taken on a life that far exceeds what I really think it is,” Kraemer said. “You have a kid who made a statement to detectives and insisted for an hour that he had no intention of hurting his mom and dad. His real intention from the start was so that they didn’t stop him from harming himself.”
Testimony at Tuesday’s hearing portrayed Simon as a disturbed teen.