According to court testimony presented on Friday, one of the adolescents charged in the case targeted five Senegalese immigrants died in a 2020 arson house fire because he mistookly believed someone at the Denver home had stolen his cellphone.
The details were revealed during a preliminary hearing for Kevin Bui and Gavin Seymour, who are accused of first-degree murder, arson, assault, and other charges in connection with the August 2020 fire.
Judge Martin Egelhoff of the Denver District Court found that there was enough evidence in the case against the two teenagers to proceed with prosecution and ordered that they be held without bail.
Both lads were 16 years old when they were arrested in January 2021, and they are being tried as adults, despite their lawyers' efforts to get their cases transferred to juvenile court.
A third defendant, who was 15 years old at the time of his arrest, is facing charges in juvenile court.
The fire started early in the morning, killing Djibril Diol, 29, his wife Adja Diol, 23, and their 2-year-old daughter Khadija.
Hassan Diol, the husband's sister, and her infant daughter, Hawa Beye, were also killed. Three additional family members jumped from a second-story window to escape the flames.
“He admitted to setting that house on fire,” Baker testified.
Bui confessed to the crime after his arrest, according to Denver police detective Neil Baker, who testified on Friday. Bui told police he tracked his stolen iPhone to a location in northeast Denver, where he and two companions poured gasoline inside and lit it on fire, according to Baker.