HELENA – The Montana Supreme Court has rejected an appeal that would have allowed Michael Victoria III of Ballantine to be tried as a juvenile in Youth Court. On Tuesday, the justices agreed with District Court Judge Russell Fagg, who ruled that Victoria is to be tried as an adult in District Court for setting fire to Huntley Project High School on Sept. 19, 2008. Victoria was 16 at the time of the crime and was charged with felony arson and felony burglary.
The ruling included the following: “The record clearly supports the District Court’s conclusion that because of the serious nature of the offenses, a longer term and more structured environment than what was available to [Victoria] through Youth Court would not only be in [Victoria’s] best interests, but would better serve the interests of community protection.
Victoria and three other teens broke into the school the night of Sept. 18, 2008, and set fires in a chemistry lab and in the office of the principal, using an accelerant from the lab supplies. The high school and gymnasium were destroyed, amounting to $9 million in property damage. The other three teens, Gregory Three Fingers, Charles McCade and Katie Parshall, admitted their guilt and have been sentenced.
A trial date for Victoria in District Court has not yet been set.