Jackson Teen Facing Arson Charges

A teenager from Jackson, and his girlfriend, are facing felony arson charges for setting fire to an occupied house, a crime that happens more often than people realize.

According to Michigan State Police records, 18-year-old Damion Hopkins and his 14-year-old girlfriend apparently set fire to her parent’s home located in the 4000 block of Dancer Road, in Hanover Township.

The girl’s father, along with two other people whose identities haven’t been disclosed, were inside the home at the time. The father was seriously injured in the fire. He is currently at the University of Michigan Burn Center, where he was recently listed as being in good condition.

Hopkins was arrested and is being charged with first degree arson, which is a felony punishable by up to life in prison, and lying to a peace officer regarding a violent crime investigation. Because the crime being investigated is a possible life felony, under Michigan law the charge of lying to a police officer becomes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000.00, or both.

“The defendant conspired with the victim’s 14-year-old daughter to set the house on fire using gasoline with the victim father being in the house. The house was set ablaze with gasoline, and it is my understanding that the defendant and the 14-year-old daughter conspired and equally participated in the fire.” said Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Nick Mehlaco, when addressing the court at the recent hearing.

Authorities intend to press charges against her

Hopkin’s girlfriend has not yet been charged, although authorities have said that they do intend to press charges against her in the near future, even though she is a minor. And the fact that she is a minor brings up another concern for police – her relationship with Hopkins who is 18. Police say they intend to seek charges for this issue as well.

Hopkins bail has been set at 1 million dollars. He has been forbidden to have any contact with his girlfriend or her family.

Arson is defined as the criminal act of setting fire to a building, a wilderness area, or to property such as a car, with the intention of causing damage. This is categorically different from pyromania, which is considered by mental health professionals to be an impulse control disorder.

Arson is believed to take place because the individual in question is seeking either financial gain (setting a fire in order to make an insurance claim), the effort to make a political or personal statement (usually linked directly to the location of the fire), or to cause harm and get revenge.

A pyromaniac will start fires to relieve stress or induce euphoria. Like kleptomania and compulsive gambling, pyromania is considered to be a rare but treatable disorder stemming from a wide range of possible origins, including being subject to bullying and abuse. Professionals say it is most common in children and teenagers.

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