Two other girls were released to their mothers

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Three young girls walked into juvenile court Friday afternoon for a hearing before Pct. 6 Justice of the Peace Jose Rodriguez concerning a case of arson at Memorial Intermediate School.

At the end of the proceedings, two were sent home in the custody of their mothers, and one was sent back to detention.

All three were in leg restrains and the clink of chain links could be heard in the courtroom as they tried to move their hands, which were handcuffed to waist chains. One girl had to lean far forward, just to push her hair back behind her ear.

Alice police arrested the three students Wednesday morning for a fire set in a girls restroom at Memorial Intermediate School.

According to APD, a lighter was used to set the toilet paper dispenser on fire. The fire and smoke ran up the partition of the stall, before the quick actions of a nearby teacher helped to stop the escalating flames.

Two days later, the three sixth-grade students sat in juvenile court. All three had tears streaming down their young faces.

They cried when they were called to the back to speak to Juvenile Probation officer Roland Saenz. They cried when their mothers came to speak to Saenz. They cried as they made their way before Judge Rodriguez.

The first girl, represented by attorney Michael Guerra, was sent back to the detention facility for a period of 10 working days. After that time, another hearing will be held, Judge Rodriguez said.

Homero Canales and Wallace Canales represented the other two girls. Each attorney asked for a gag order from the judge, to apply to all proceedings because of the attention the case had generated so far.

Rodriguez approved the gag order, but did not close the court to media. The mothers of both girls were in the court, and Rodriguez placed the girls in the custody of juvenile probation and released them to their mothers, under several conditions.

Both females have to meet with their probation officers at least once a week. Both have a curfew of 7 p.m. They cannot associate with people specified in the court order. The must submit to drug testing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, based on the decisions of the juvenile probation office, and they must attend counseling and attend school on a regular basis.

During the hearings, the first girl continued to cry in her seat, very distraught. After the other two were released and left the courtroom, the first girl stood up, wiping her eyes with tissue, her chains still in place.

She continued to cry as she was led by JWC correctional officers down the hall and back to the waiting transport van, ready to take her back to the detention facility alone.