VISALIA, California (KSEE) – The parents of two fallen Porterville firefighters feel betrayed by the legal system after a judge ruled the teenagers suspected of starting the fatal Porterville Library Fire just over a year ago will no longer have to wear electronic monitors.
The two unidentified 14-year-olds face charges of murder, conspiracy, and arson in connection to the library fire that killed Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones.
“I feel disgusted that the court even considered it and agreed to it,” said Ray’s father Ramon Figueroa.
“Complete disappointment, very betrayed,” said John Jones the father of Patrick.
The teenagers will no longer have to wear a monitor to track them while under house arrest but will have to be under constant supervision from their parents and grandparents and have to check-in with their probation officer daily.
Judge Hugo Loza said he made the decision based on their good behavior in custody and while on the monitor.
“Their behavior has been very appropriate and what I am going to use this for, is to determine how they will do under different circumstances,” the judge said.
“Basically, the judge is giving them a chance to prove themselves without the monitor,” said defense attorney David Candelaria. “They are not involved with gangs: they were just 13 when this happened.”
The families of Figueroa and Jones don’t believe justice is being served.
“Instead of holding them accountable,” said Ramon. “They are rewarding them and the judge is sending the message to these kids that, ‘go ahead and murder somebody because we won’t do anything to you’.”
“I truly believe, that not only are they desecrating the memories of our fallen heroes,” said John Jones. “But it is a slap in the face to all first responders.”
The minors will be under house arrest until the trial, which begins Aug. 9. If they are convicted, the longest they could be sentenced would be until 25 years, due to state law.