Wednesday, August 29, 2012

‘Forgiveness is too much to ask’

Valley teen apologizes for police-car arsons

Express Staff Writer

Valley resident Christopher Carnes, one of three teens sentenced for lighting two police cars on fire in Hailey in December 2010, apologized for his actions during a meeting of the Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday.

“An apology is a big thing, but I don’t intend to get a full ‘Yeah, I forgive you,’” Carnes told an audience that included his parents, the commissioners and several law enforcement officers, including one of the victims, Ketchum Police Chief Steve Harkins. “Full forgiveness is too much to ask.”

Two other boys who pleaded guilty to the crimes, Parker Morris and Karel Kaiser, apologized before the Ketchum City Council on Aug. 6. The boys, now all 17, were 16 when the crimes occurred. All were charged with felony arson when arrested in November 2011, and pleaded guilty in plea agreements earlier this year.

“What I thought about, when we lit the
cars on fire, was getting back at someone,
not how it would affect their families.”

Christopher Carnes
Valley teen

Carnes and Kaiser were given 21-day detention sentences. Morris, who has prior misdemeanor convictions, was given 45 days of detention. Each boy was ordered by Blaine County Juvenile Court Judge Mark Ingram to perform 100 hours of community service, pay restitution of $589, maintain a B average in school and make a public apology.

The boys also took part in a four-hour “restorative conference” before sentencing, a meeting of the accused and the victims as well as other community members. Carnes said that this experience was “powerful,” and helped him realize the consequences of his actions.

“What I thought about, when we lit the cars on fire, was getting back at someone, not how it would affect their families,” he said. “I never expected [the meeting] to be so empowering and have so many people talk about how they felt.”

Carnes said that he has since changed his ways, maintaining a 3.5 GPA heading into his senior year of high school and working with “at-risk” youths through Silver Creek High School teacher Jill Bailey. Carnes said some of the youths he works with worry that they may be bullied or left out if they don’t do things that they know are wrong, he said, and he urges them to find something else—like sports or other extracurricular activities—to become involved in.

“I take responsibility for what I did,” he said. “I am going to think about it every day for my life, but I am not going to dwell on it. I’m trying to move forward.”

The crimes occurred on the evening of Dec. 27 and 28, 2010. The first night, petroleum was dumped on the rear of the car of Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Daniel Turner and ignited. The next night, the three boys threw two Molotov cocktails at Harkins’ patrol car, breaking a window and igniting the car. Both vehicles were parked at the officers’ homes.

Kate Wutz:

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