Teen convicted of setting destructive San Diego County fire

Teenage Girl Found Guilty of Setting Fire That Sparked May 2014 Cocos Fire 5 Pm

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A judge on Tuesday found a 14-year-old girl guilty of arson for igniting a branch in her backyard that caused last year's devastating wildfire in San Diego County.

Judge Howard Shore found the girl was guilty of multiple felony counts of arson and one misdemeanor count of unlawfully allowing a fire to escape one's control, said Steve Walker of the San Diego County District Attorney's office. Her attorney, Ryan McGlinn, did not immediately return a message for comment.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors argued that the girl ignited branches amid a spate of wildfires in the county and laughed about it when she told her sister. An ember traveled nearly a half-mile and ignited the Cocos Fire that destroyed 36 homes, they said.

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Teen convicted of setting destructive San Diego County fire
SAN CLEMENTE, CA - MAY 16: People on Trestles beach watch Erickson air crane firefighting helicopters suck water from a lagoon to fight the Talega Fire on nearby Camp Pendleton as a surfer arrives to Tressles beach on May 16, 2014 near San Clemente, California. The Talega Fire, which began this morning, is one of three large wildfires on Camp Pendleton that have scorched more than 22,000 acres. Firefighters have been battling 11 wildfires in San Diego County this week, including the fires on the Marine base. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A house burns near an eagle sculpture at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A house burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: Flames spread at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A firefighter pulls a hose in position while battling the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: Smoke rises as the southeast flank of the Cocos fire bears down on houses near Del Dios Highway on May 15, 2014 near San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A house burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: Ranch equipment burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A firefighter pulls a hose into position to battle the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A ranch smolders at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN CLEMENTE, CA - MAY 16: A surfer at Trestles beach looks back at an Erickson air crane firefighting helicopter sucking water from a lagoon to fight the Talega Fire on nearby Camp Pendleton on May 16, 2014 near San Clemente, California. The Talega Fire, which began this morning, is one of three large wildfires on Camp Pendleton that have scorched more than 22,000 acres. Firefighters have been battling 11 wildfires in San Diego County this week, including the fires on the Marine base. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN CLEMENTE, CA - MAY 16: A CH 53 Super Stallion Marine helicopter carries a bucket of water scooped from the ocean to fight the Talega Fire on nearby Camp Pendleton on May 16, 2014 near San Clemente, California. The Talega Fire, which began this morning, is one of three large wildfires on Camp Pendleton that have scorched more than 22,000 acres. Firefighters have been battling 11 wildfires in San Diego County this week, including the fires on the Marine base. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A house burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: The grill of a pickup truck is left melted by the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A firefighter hoses flames at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: Ranch equipment burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN MARCOS, CA - MAY 15: A house burns at the Cocos fire on May 15, 2014 in San Marcos, California. Fire agencies throughout the state are scrambling to prepare for what is expected to be a dangerous year of wildfires in this third year of extreme drought in California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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A hearing to decide her punishment will be scheduled next month. It wasn't immediately known what penalty she might face.

Mitizi McKinney, whose apartment burned in the Cocos Fire, said it was a sad outcome for all.

"Like the judge says, there's no winners in this," McKinney told KNSD-TV, outside the courtroom. "It's a sad situation. But I feel like justice was definitely served today. The evidence was overwhelming that she started the fire that burned all the homes down."

Restitution for victims is possible, and the parents of the girl could be responsible, though only to a limited dollar amount, according to KSND-TV.

The girl told investigators she "didn't want to kill anybody" - only to "see what would happen" when she set the first of two fires in her backyard, according to an audio tape played in court on Monday.

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