2005-02-18 / Front Page

Killer Firebugs Plead Guilty

The two 13-year-old cousins charged with setting the Ocean Village fire that killed a security guard on Christmas will face a six to 18- month sentence after pleading guilty in Queens Family Court on Tuesday, officials said.

The boys, identified in court papers as Curtis H. and Derek H., admitted they started the trash fire that killed Raymond James, 32, according to Corporation Counsel spokesperson Kate O’Brien Ahlers. James, who wanted to get the burning trash bin out of the building fast, took it into an elevator and burned to death as he traveled slowly from the 5th to the 1st floor, police said.

Witnesses said James was heard screaming and begging for rescue, according to reports published after the incident.

The boys’ juvenile status limits their sentence to 5 years in a juvenile facility, but the Law Department agreed to recommend a maximum sentence of 18 months, with a minimum of six months, said Ahlers.

“The disposition takes into account the youths’ age and lack of a Family Court record. It also recognizes the great harm caused by their irresponsible actions that resulted in the tragic death of Raymond James, who died protecting his building’s residents,” said Assistant Corporation Counsel Lori Iskowitz.

“The plea bargain was reached in consultation with the victim’s family, and will spare them the heartache and uncertainty of long, drawn-out court proceedings,” Iskowitz added.

James came to the United States from St. Vincent in the Caribbean less than two years ago with his wife, Laverne James, and their two young children ages 6 and 9. They settled in Richmond Hill. James also had two children with another woman in St. Vincent. Funeral services for James were held at the Elock Funeral Home and he was buried in St. Vincent. Contributions can be sent to North Fork Bank, c/o Raymond James Memorial Fund, 115-20 Jamaica Avenue, Richmond Hill, NY 11418.

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